Greetings, fans of Every Night is Game Night! Here are my favorite eleven episodes that we’ve done so far. I wanted to highlight all the different kinds of episodes we do, so I grouped them in general categories like Improve your Plays, Roundtables, etc.
Why have I done this? Uh, I’m not sure. Anthony can attest to my mania for organization. Writing this all up also helped me take stock of where we’ve been so we could better inform where we are going. And heck, maybe someone out there will get something out of having all of their favorite episodes conceptually grouped together. Ok, so probably not that last one. But here it is, regardless!
(Also, our GeekList on BGG)
11. Reviews – Oniverse Special (ep. 6)
It seems silly to say for a gaming podcast, but I should put the plain fact out there – Every Night is Game Night would not exist without board games. Some podcasts go for more of discussion-oriented vibe and deemphasize actual reviews. ENGN does the same, from time to time. However, Anthony and I just love reviewing games. We’re both naturally inclined to try a lot of games and chat about them. The review format just works for us. So, even though there are a billion reviewers out there that you could be listening to, we sincerely hope we are bringing something unique and entertaining to the table with our regular review shows.
I chose the Oniverse episode to feature here for sentimental reasons, of course. That was my debut on the show! Poor Anthony had no idea what he was doing when we put out the call for “guest hosts” among his listeners. Mwahahaha! We have so many review-oriented episodes that I cant really pick out any other particular ones. What stands out to me overall, though, is how Anthony and I diverge so much with our tastes. Between heavy euro games and thematic coop games, we got you covered.
I also enjoy when we go Beyond the Hotness and feature games from the past that have been swallowed by hype, but which are great. That’s how I found out about King’s Armory from Kevin Erskine (ep. 82), After the Virus from Jeremy Howard (ep. 89), and a lot more.
10. Deep Dive/ Should I Buy It? Reviews – Mage Knight with Kevin Erskine (ep. 89)
Most of our game reviews run around ten minutes long. That gives us enough elbow room to blather on about a game and give our thoughts in a comprehensive way. However, some games come along that merit the treatment of a full episode. I love these episodes because they challenge me, not only to form my opinions, but really think through my reasoning and present what I think in an organized way. I might change my mind about a game after a regular review, but much less so after a Deep Dive. I later tweaked the format into a “Should I Buy It?” deal because, after all, isn’t that the main question we all want answered about a game?
Of course, Mage Knight is the GOAT for me, so I had to feature it here. Thanks, Kevin!
Some other Deep Dive/ Should I Buy It? Episodes –
- First Martians Deep Dive (ep. 46), even though the game itself landed with a thud and Coolstuff once had it on sale for ten bucks.
- Sword and Sorcery vs. Descent (ep. 49)
- 7th Continent Deep Dive (ep. 55)
- Charterstone Deep Dive (ep. 70)
- “Should I Buy It?” Heroes of Terrinoth (ep. 115)
- “Should I Buy It?” Arkham Horror 3e (ep. 116)
- “Should I Buy It?” Chronicles of Crime vs. Detective (ep. 117)
9. Content Creator Collaborations – Kickstarter MegaPod! (ep. 88)
One of the real joys of podcasting has been to meet other folks in the hobby who are just as passionate and nuts about board games as I am. Anthony has his own show over on Board Gamers Anonymous. So when he’s not available or hasn’t played the games I’m looking to review, I’ve been able to reach out to all sorts of folks and get their help. 9 times out of 10, that person is willing to hop on and we have a great time.
I don’t exactly remember why I reached out to Liz and Jeremy in particular for review shows. I think we were just talking one day and it kind of happened organically. Those two (especially Jeremy) are both into new Kickstarter projects, and I get my fair share as well. It felt natural to chat about the Kickstarter projects that were hitting our table, and we truly have a blast doing it. We’ve done six of these episodes so far, and we don’t plan on stopping!
Some other collaborations that I’ve really enjoyed –
- Luke from the Broken Meeple for Top Ten Solo Games (ep. 38 and others)
- Anthony and Frances at Ant Lab Games for some Heavy Games (ep. .58)
- Colin from One Stop Coop Shop on some Fantasy Flight Games (ep. 66, where he agreed to come on the same day we recorded – what a guy!)
- Brandt from the Portal Gaming Podcast, also helping out with Heavy Games (ep. 105)
- Albert from the 1 Player Podcast, helping me interview Mr. Rory’s Story Cubes (ep. 71)
- Julius from 1 Player Podcast to inflame a blood feud and debate Mice and Mystics vs. Stuffed Fables (ep. 78)
- Roy from Epic Gaming Night helping out me and Mike from Coop Cast with Arkham Horror LGC (ep. 117)
8. Designer Interviews – Scythe: The Rise of Fenris Director’s Commentary (ep. 108)
I’m not really sure where I got the nerve to email the head of a gaming company way back when ENGN was still getting off the ground. Anthony and I were really, really hyped about First Martians and wanted to know how it was different than Robinson Crusoe. I somehow got it into my head that I would ask the company head directly, and he said yes! I really enjoyed our interview with Ignacy Trzewiecek (ep. 21). That kicked off a run of ENGN interviews with publishers and designers. I reached out to pretty much everyone who made games I liked. Along with the main show, those interviews spun off into about 40 episodes worth of the Preview Series.
However, over the past few months, I’ve de-emphasized designer interviews. As fun as it is to chat with these folks, they certainly do a lot of interviews. I had a hard time posing questions to distinguish an ENGN interview from something you might hear on other shows. I once ran into someone I interviewed for ENGN at a con, and they didn’t remember it. At that point, what’s the point?
Nowadays, when I have a designer on, I want it to stand out as something different and interesting. Even though we didn’t get a ton of people who listened to the full Director’s Commentary episode we did for Scythe: The Rise of Fenris (ep. 108 – spoilers!), I LOVED how it came out. That’s the kind of thing I like to hear, which I don’t think you can find anywhere else. We also had Cole Wherle, the designer of Root, talk about strategy for his game (ep. 106). He said he’d never really done that before on a pod, which was gratifying to hear. Expect more of that to come!
7. ENGN Solo Awards – Solo Awards for 2017, pt. 1 (ep. 72)
This one started innocently enough. I wanted to put a fun spin on the year in review show, and the award show format made sense. Then, I have a friend who does amazing graphic design work, and he was able to do an awards logo for us. After that, I also looked around at all these friends I made with content creators throughout 2017. So I had the idea to get clips from them acting as awards presenters for the different categories. In this episode, Adam Smith from Rolling Solo pretends to get eaten by a Shoggoth monster. Really funny stuff.
The 2018 Awards show grew even bigger. It had somewhere around 20+ clips from designers, publishers, and content creators. That’s a lot of work! I may rejigger the format into something less labor intensive in the future. But I do like that it gives me and Anthony a chance to look back at the year in an organized way. So, they’re here to stay, and I’ll eventually find a groove that works. Suggestions welcome!
- ENGN Solo Awards for 2017, pt. 1 (ep. 72)
- ENGN Solo Awards for 2017, pt. 2 (ep. 73)
- ENGN Solo Awards for 2018, pt. 1 (ep. 126)
- ENGN Solo Awards for 2018, pt. 2 (ep. 127)
6. Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary (ep. 65)
Kevin Erskine from the 1 Player Guild over on BGG was ENGN’s very first guest. At this point, he’s also our most frequent guest, which is fine by me! He’s a really great guy.
We’ve done the commentary episodes on Kevin’s Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games for three years now, and it’s fun every time. They are our highest rated episodes – people love Top lists! I highlighted the episode from 2017 because it’s the first time we featured “best in show” games in different categories, like best card game, best worker placement, etc. I like talking about the list that way. I think it’s really helpful especially to newer gamers who want a quick survey of the best the hobby has to offer.
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2016, pt. 1 (ep. 16)
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2016, pt. 2 (ep. 17)
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2017, pt. 1 (ep. 64)
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2017, pt. 2 (ep. 65)
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2018, pt. 1 (ep. 113)
- Top 100 People’s Choice Solo Games Commentary for 2018, pt. 2 (ep. 114)
5. Gamer Guests – Episode 50 Spectacular! (ep. 50)
I know it sounds cliche as heck, like when James Hetfield shouts out that “the 5th member of Metallica is all of you fans!” I roll my eyes every time I hear stuff like that. But it’s actually, really true. I love anyone who tunes into the show, who is a part of the Facebook group, who comments on the GeekList, all of that stuff.
I get especially excited when I can invite folks on who have never been part of a podcast before. As Anthony showed me however long ago, the barrier of entry for these things is surprisingly low. In that spirit, this episode I’m highlighting here was a really fun conversation with some women gamers from the Facebook Solo Games group. Getting a DM from Marina Freeman after the show that said “wow, I feel famous!” made my week.
I also like reaching out to random forum posters on BGG and getting their thoughts on a topic. Zach Homringhaus was amazingly helpful during our 7th Continent Deep Dive (ep. 55). Jay Imbrenda was a great guest to talk about Heroes of Terrinoth (ep. 115). I’ll always be on the lookout for more ways to bring more voices on the show.
4. Chats about Life and Mental Health – Holiday Survival (ep. 10)
If you have listened to even a handful of episodes, you’ll know that I’m a mental health therapist by trade. I really like when I can integrate my perspective and my work into something relevant to a gamer’s experience. For me, they match up a lot! For example, I gave a brief chat about introversion and holidays way back in ENGN’s lifespan. In fact, it was my first solo episode, recorded on my phone in my father-in-law’s basement over two years ago (we’ve come a long way, baby). This past week, one of my clients complained of… being an introvert in a crowd. This stuff just comes round and round!
Looking back, I’m surprised I haven’t done it more often. A few times, like my Gaming with Newborns episodes that was, once again, recorded on my phone (ep. 112). I may need to remedy that… that is, if you guys enjoy it :).
3. Improve Your Play – Root with Cole Wherle (ep. 106)
Ok, now we are getting to one of my absolute favorite things we do here on the pod. So many review shows move through hot new games, or Top Ten lists, or whatever else is standard fare for gaming podcasts. I almost never see good strategy advice outside of the strategy forum threads on BGG. Certainly not on podcasts. When I started breaking into Terraforming Mars solo, I really, really wanted something good to explain how I could stop sucking at it. I didn’t find anything, so I just asked Anthony and we made one ourselves.
Of course, having the designer of a game on, and him being so passionate about strategy, brought it to another level. So, the Improve Your Play for Root that we did will always stick out.
- Terraforming Mars (ep. 76)
- Mage Knight (ep. 81)
- Ghost Stories (ep. 94)
- Root (ep. 106)
2. Games that Raise Issues – Designer Roundtable on Representation in Games (ep. 121)
Along with the mental health stuff, I am also interested in the intersection of gaming and cultural/ political topics. Like Dr. Patrick Rael said on one of these episodes, games are cultural products. Although they’re meant for escapism, sometimes they also bring baggage that some folks might completely miss but which slaps some other folks in the face. Issues of slavery, colonialism, war and peace, race and representation… all that happy stuff. I think it’s really important to create space to talk about this stuff without things devolving into flame, or crap.
I very much recognize that not every listener feels the same way. I try to be careful to delineate these episodes, with the discussion topic clearly marked off. But after whatever little heads up I put in there for listeners, all bets are off!
- Games that Raise Issues, pt. 1: Slavery and Colonialism with Dr. Patrick Rael (ep. 42)
- Games that Raise Issues, pt. 2: Nazism with Dr. Patrick Rael (ep. 43)
- Games for the Easter Season/ Religious Themes in Games with Chara Games (ep. 80)
- Designer Roundtable on Games with Non-Traditional Themes, pt. 2 (ep. 121)
1. Designer/ Podcaster Roundtables – Thematic Games (ep. 134)
It feels funny to rank episodes in a Top Ten list (er, Top Eleven) like this. Every episode of ENGN is my baby! I may not be totally thrilled with every final product, but I am certainly proud of all of them. However, the episodes that get me the most excited have been the Roundtables, where I reach out to folks who know stuff and get everyone on one call. They may know each other very well, or they may be meeting for the first time (Keith Matejka said it felt “surreal” to chat with Ricky Royal, having watched his videos for years but not meeting him in person). Either way, I simply love excellent, deep, and engaging conversation with folks who know stuff and who are willing to dive in.
Also, thanks to everyone who contributes questions and comments whenever I post in a forum. Having multiple perspectives to pull from just makes things so much richer and better.
And yes, my favorite episode of ENGN ever is the very last one we did. Maybe that’s why I decided to rank them now :).
- Fantasy Adventure Designer Roundtable, pt. 1, with Tristan Hall, Frank West, and Isaac Childres (ep. 83)
- Fantasy Adventure Designer Roundtable, pt. 2, with Tristan Hall, Frank West, and Isaac Childres (ep. 83)
- Solo Variant Designer Roundtable, pt. 1, with Mike Mullins, Keith Matejka, and Ricky Royal (ep. 91)
- Solo Variant Designer Roundtable, pt. 2, with Mike Mullins, Keith Matejka, and Ricky Royal (ep. 92)
- Designer Roundtable – Games with Non-Traditional Themes, pt. 1, with Sarah Reed, Elizabeth Hargrave, and R. Eric Reuss (ep. 120)
- Designer Roundtable – Games with Non-Traditional Themes, pt. 2, with Sarah Reed, Elizabeth Hargrave, and R. Eric Reuss (ep. 121)
- Podcaster Roundtable on Thematic Games with Paul Grogan and Marc Davis (ep. 134)