The SnakesCast

Bite-sized bits about board games from the game gurus at Snakes and Lattes

The world of tabletop games is a lot bigger than most people realize. In fact it's so big that the idea of investigating it can actually be kind of intimidating. When you see all those games you've never heard of, with rules and concepts and themes you've never seen before in a game, it's hard to know where to start. The answer is: start with the SnakesCast. Every week, we'll bring you ten or fifteen minutes' worth of banter about what makes these games worth playing. With a different theme every episode and a rotating cast of both gurus and non-gurus from Toronto's premiere boardgame café, we'll show you just how much there is to play with out there.


    Games in a galaxy far, far away

    Games based on movies and TV shows are usually awful. We know all about this from previous episodes. Our childhood memories of Star Wars-themed board games are not good. But happily, things have changed. For more Star Wars game goodness, check out our curator's video review of Star Wars Risk:

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Scott Moyle

    Games mentioned: Star Wars: Escape From The Death Star Game, Battle At the Sarlacc Pit, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Battle at Sarlacc's Pit, Star Wars: Epic Duels, Star Wars Miniatures, Imperial Assault, Star Wars: The Card Game, Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game, Star Wars: Armada, Wings of War, Descent, Loopin' Louie, Loopin' Chewie, Boom Boom Balloon, Star Wars Death Star Boom Boom Balloon, Star Wars Risk, Lightsaber Dueling Pack

    Published: May 24th, 2016 Length: 00:17:46
  • We Have A Problem, Part Two

    Causes and possible solutions

    This week's episode continues last week's discussion of problems with oppression in the board game community. We don't just talk about the problems though. We also get into the ways you can help to make our little corner of the world safer, happier, and more welcoming to people who might otherwise feel alienated or even fearful.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Coco Lee, Scott Moyle

    Sadly, we didn't get much into talking about race during this series. We will approach this topic in a future episode (when my co-hosts aren't all white).

    Published: May 17th, 2016 Length: 00:29:41
  • We Have A Problem, Part One

    A difficult but necessary conversation

    Playing board games with other humans should be fun and safe. This is not a controversial statement. And yet within the community of people who consider themselves tabletop game players, there are places and individuals who are unpleasant and even dangerous. This week we begin a two part series on sexual harassment and abuse in game groups, game stores and game conventions. Listener discretion is advised.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Coco Lee, Scott Moyle

    Special thanks to De Scriptorice, the Popette of the First Church of Quantum Universes and author of this article, which inspired the episode:

    Published: May 10th, 2016 Length: 00:16:29
  • Interview: Ignacy Trzewiczek

    Part Two

    Ignacy Trzewiczek is famous for complex, challenging designs like Robinson Crusoe and Stronghold, which are too complicated for even our best game gurus to teach quickly, which is why you won't see them on the shelves of the café. But Ignacy's publishing company, Portal Games, fell so in love with a game that only had 18 cards that they just had to publish it. This week he'll talk to us about Tides of Time, and what made it such a hit.

    Interviewed: Ignacy Trzewiczek Games mentioned: Tides of Time, Stronghold, Robinson Crusoe, Civilization, Love Letter, Coup, Sail to India, 7 Wonders, Sushi GO!, Tides of Madness, Caylus Be sure to check out for more discussion about Tides of Time.

    Published: May 3rd, 2016 Length: 00:17:55
  • Interview: Ignacy Trzewiczek

    Part One

    Some of the most exciting developments in game design these days are coming out of eastern Europe, and this week we're joined by one of the region's hottest designers. In part one of our interview with Ignacy Trzewiczek, we talk about Poland's post-communist cultural landscape, and the challenges of making games that tell stories.

    Interview guest: Ignacy Trzewiczek

    Games mentioned: Stronghold, Kolejka (a.k.a. Queue), First Martians, Robinson Crusoe, This War of Mine, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective


    Published: April 26th, 2016 Length: 00:19:12
  • Mathematical Games

    And math in games

    Mathematics is inescapable. Everything we do is governed by mathematical laws. And board games, being little systems we invent to put on our tabletops, are inherently mathematical. But so many people are turned off by even the idea of math. That could be because of how it's taught in schools, but it could also be because so much of the fun we have with math in games is disguised to not look like math. This week we're going to look into the ways math turns into play, for good and for bad.

    Co-hosts: Lisa Weklych, Holly Wyder

    Games mentioned: Monopoly, Yahtzee, Clue, Poker, Power Grid, Planet Steam, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Diplomacy, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Blood Rage, SmallWorld, Pandemic, Splendor

    Published: April 19th, 2016 Length: 00:15:39
  • Gurus Love 'Em, People Won't Try 'Em

    no matter how hard we try to convince them

    We've spent the last couple weeks on the show ranting about the most popular games that we really don't like, so now it's time to put the shoe on the other foot and talk about the games we love and can't get most people to even try. And believe it or not, these aren't massively long or complicated games at all! There's just something about them.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, David Kingsmill

    Games mentioned: Race For the Galaxy, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Fury of Dracula, Pandemic, Forbidden Island, Can't Stop, Skull & Roses, Vegas!, Patchwork, Codenames, Taboo, Chaos In the Old World, Caylus, Twilight Imperium

    Published: April 12th, 2016 Length: 00:23:56
  • People Love 'Em, Gurus Hate 'Em (part 2)

    More games disagreed upon by newcomers and enthusiasts

    This week the negativity continues as we talk about the most popular games that game enthusiasts just don't like. In a desperate attempt to bring at least a modicum of empathy and understanding to the proceedings, we also talk about the reasons why those games are so widely beloved despite their shortcomings.

    Co-hosts: David Kingsmill, Steve Tassie

    Games mentioned: Cards Against Humanity, Munchkin, Connect Four, Apples to Apples, Snake Oil, Balderdash, But Wait, There's More!, Mad Libs, Quarto, Pentago, Yinsh, Othello, Adventure Time Card Wars, Magic: The Gathering, A Game of Thrones The Board Game, XCOM The Board Game, 6 Nimmt!, Bang! The Walking Dead, Risk: The Walking Dead, Dead of Winter, City of Horror, Risk: Legacy, Risk: Star Wars, Coup, Coup: Rebellion G54, Coup: Reformation, Guess Who?, Clue

    Published: April 5th, 2016 Length: 00:25:15
  • People Love 'Em, Gurus Hate 'Em

    And now we're going to figure out why

    What is it about a game that can make it popular to millions... but despicable to people who love games more than anything else? This week we talk about some of the most beloved games out there, and the reasons why we who call ourselves Game Gurus just don't enjoy them as much as everyone else.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, David Kingsmill

    Games mentioned: Scattergories, Scrabble, Boggle, Letter Roll, Cards Against Humanity, The Game of Life

    Published: March 29th, 2016 Length: 00:19:12
  • Interview: Justin Gary (Part two)

    In which the making of a game designer is discussed

    In part 2 of our interview with game designer Justin Gary, we talk about what it is that makes a person actually set out to make their living in this unusual industry. We also get into the nuts and bolts of creating and publishing a game, and questions of where things are going from here. You can read more of Justin's work at, including essays about game design, philosophy and more.

    Interview guest: Justin Gary

    Games mentioned: Ascension, Magic: The Gathering, SolForge, Labyrinth, Bad Beets, Love Letter, Coup


    Published: March 22nd, 2016 Length: 00:21:22
  • Interview: Justin Gary (Part one)

    Justin shines the Game Spotlight on his most famous game: Ascension

    The SnakesCast is very lucky this week to be visited by Justin Gary, the lead designer of Ascension. We've talked about deckbuilding games on the show before, and Ascension was a watershed in the genre. In this episode we discuss the process of creating the game, the ways it departed from the original formula established by Dominion, and the reasons why Ascension's newer formula became so powerfully influential, paving the way for so many deckbuilding games that followed after.

    Interview guest: Justin Gary

    Games mentioned: Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, Dominion, Magic: The Gathering, Ascension: Realms Unravelled, Ascension: Dawn of Champions, Ascension: Storm of Souls

    Published: March 15th, 2016 Length: 00:19:53
  • Game Spotlight: Mysterium (part 2)

    This time with variants

    This week on the SnakesCast, part 2 of our game spotlight on Mysterium. We've never had a game spotlight stretch out to two episodes, but we've rarely had a game as weird as this one to talk about. We were also talking about at least two different versions of the game, each quite distinct. If you're curious about the variant I mention in this episode, here's a link my favourite way to play. Enjoy!

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, David Kingsmill
    Games mentioned: Mysterium

    Published: March 8th, 2016 Length: 00:12:23
  • Game Spotlight: Mysterium (part 1)

    A game so weird we needed two episodes to do it justice

    Games about mysteries aren't exactly common, but there are a few. Games that involve ghosts are also fairly rare, but they exist. But games where one player is a ghost and tries to communicate with the other players through strange signs and visions because they can't speak or write? That's a new one. This week's game spotlight shines on part one of our discussion of Mysterium.

    Co-hosts: David Kingsmill, Steve Tassie

    Games mentioned: Clue, Dixit, Mysterium

    Published: March 1st, 2016 Length: 00:14:52
  • Realism and Simulation

    A good thing that you can definitely have too much of

    One of the ways you can get people invested in a game is to make it feel like a miniature world. The more realistic that little world feels, the more the players can believe in it. The more they believe in it, the more involving and engrossing it becomes. But there are some pretty sharp limitations on how much realism is good to have.

    Co-hosts: Holly Wyder, Lisa Weklych

    Games mentioned: Patchwork, Samurai Spirit, Bomb Squad Academy, Dead of Winter, Merchants & Marauders, Mice & Mystics, Tokaido, Robinson Crusoe, 1960: The Making of the President, Agricola

    Published: February 23rd, 2016 Length: 00:12:26
  • Game Spotlight: Codenames

    The party game for people who can't stand party games

    We've talked before on the SnakesCast about the divide between strategy game players and party game players. This week we're shining the spotlight on a game that could bridge the gap between them. With its team-versus-team structure and quick playtime, it definitely has the feel of a party game, but it's a lot more challenging than you might expect.

    Co-hosts: Holly Wyder, Lisa Weklych

    Games mentioned: Codenames, Agricola, Le Havre, Taboo, Cards Against Humanity, Mage Knight, Telestrations

    Published: February 16th, 2016 Length: 00:14:13
  • Game Spotlight: Patchwork

    You've probably never played a game with this theme before

    There are dozens of games about zombies, dragons, money, and other popular themes. So many in fact that it's hard for any of them to stand out against all the rest. This week on the SnakesCast, we're talking about a game that isn't about any of those things. It's about making nice quilts. And if you think that can't possibly be any fun, you might be very surprised when you play it.

    Co-hosts: Holly Wyder, Lisa Weklych

    Games mentioned: Patchwork, Bohnanza, Ready Set Spaghetti, Agricola, Le Havre, Battleship, Tetris

    Published: February 10th, 2016 Length: 00:14:53
  • Miniatures games

    And the art of painting zillions of little toy soldiers

    One of the oldest genres of hobby games dates back to the 19th Century and the Science-Fiction writer H.G. Wells, who invented a game called "Little Wars" about moving little toys around on the floor so they could outmaneuver and kill each other. On the SnakesCast this week, we're talking about how today's miniatures wargames are quite different, and yet in some ways, very much the same.

    Co-hosts: David Kingsmill, Scott Moyle

    Games mentioned: Warhammer 40000, Deadzone, Necromunca, Magic: The Gathering, Colt Express, Kemet, Splendor, Mansions of Madness, Advanced Squad Leader, Sekigahara, Star Wars X-Wing, They Come Unseen, Star Wars Armada, Little Wars

    Published: February 2nd, 2016 Length: 00:22:01
  • Chaos

    Or, how to make something feel random even though it's not

    Luck has a lot to do with who wins and who loses in many games. But even in games that don't have any dice or cards, the outcome can still feel pretty random sometimes. This week on the SnakesCast we're talking about a little thing called "chaos". It's the strange force that can make even a game that depends 100% on decisions made by the players feel as wild and unpredictable as any dicefest.

    Co-hosts: David Kingsmill, Scott Moyle

    Games mentioned: Boss Monster, Fluxx, Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men, Alien Frontiers, Catan, Warhammer 40000, Can't Stop, Vegas, Strike, Snakes & Ladders, Candyland, Yahtzee, Rock Paper Scissors, Skull, Scattergories, 6 Nimmt!, Uno, Colt Express, Robo Rally, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Citadels, Incan Gold, Isla Dorada, Mascarade, Shakespeare, Tammany Hall, Lifeboats, Outer Earth, King of Tokyo, Cash N Guns, Chess, Go, Abalone

    Published: January 26th, 2016 Length: 00:20:49
  • Game Spotlight: Shakespeare

    The play's the thing

    The adventures of William Shakespeare's characters could fill an entire library of games. But what of the bard himself? What about a game where the players face the kinds of challenges an Elizabethan playwright would have to deal with, like hiring actors, building sets, tightening up the script, and pleasing the Queen? That game exists now, and this week on the SnakesCast we're going to shine the game spotlight on Shakespeare.

    Co-hosts: Scott Moyle, David Kingsmill

    Games mentioned: Shakespeare, Shakespeare: The Bard Game, Council of Verona, Kill Shakespeare, Colosseum, Arkham Horror, Legacy: The Testament of the Duke de Crecy, Tales of the Arabian Nights, 7 Wonders, Caylus, Ginkopolis, Puerto Rico

    Published: January 19th, 2016 Length: 00:21:59
  • Getting Into Character

    There's a little actor in all of us

    For many game players, immersing yourself in a game and traveling to an imaginary world for a little while is a sublime experience, and a major reason to play. But for others, it's terrifying. What if you can't act? This week on the SnakesCast, two actors who also love games talk about ways to help your friends to get properly into character and truly join the fun.

    Co-hosts: Scott Moyle, David Kingsmill

    Games mentioned: Battlestar Galactica, The Resistance, Snake Oil, Werewolf, Spyfall, Colt Express, Bang! The Dice Game, Space Cadets, Space Cadets Dice Duel, Space Cadets Away Missions, Crokinole, Robo Rally, Carcassonne, XCOM, Shadows Over Camelot, Fiasco

    You can find out more about Scott's theatrical endeavours at, and you can learn more about David's radio plays and writing at

    Published: January 12th, 2016 Length: 00:22:04