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.

  • Guru Voodoo: Big Groups

    What to play when you've got a whole lot of people

    Finding a game for a big group of people to play together can be a big challenge. You need something that everyone will enjoy, and the more people you've got, the more chances that someone won't like what's on the table. And then there's the fact that lots of games just don't work with more than 4 or 5 players. This week, the gurus talk about the games they bring out when they've got a lot of people to entertain.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Aaron Zack
    Games mentioned: Cranium, Pictionary, Taboo, 25 Words Or Less, Time's Up!, Kwizniac, 5-Second Rule, Geek Out!, Werewolf, Mascarade, Two Rooms and a Boom, The Resistance, The Resistance: Avalon, Panic on Wall Street!, 6 Nimmt!, Robo Rally, Ca$h n Guns, Shadow Hunters, Bang! The Dice Game, Say Anything, Telestrations, Saboteur, Incan Gold

    Season 2
    Published: December 16th, 2014 Length: 00:15:25
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  • Lattes vs. Lagers

    Different game libraries for different establishments

    Snakes and Lattes is the board game café. Snakes and Lagers is the board game bar. Two different atmospheres, two different approaches, which have developed two different libraries of board games. Of course, those libraries share a common purpose: to entertain our patrons. How are the differences between these kinds of venues reflected in the games you'll find on their shelves?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Aaron Zack
    Games mentioned: Marrakech, Splendor, Fireball Island, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, Fury of Dracula, Twilight Imperium, Firefly: The Game, Dead of Winter, Agricola, Cockroach Poker, Black Fleet, Cards Against Humanity, Guess Who?, Battleship, Animal Upon Animal, Click Clack Lumberjack

    Season 2
    Published: December 8th, 2014 Length: 00:15:44
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  • Game Spotlight: Tragedy Looper

    It's like Groundhog Day, but with Japanese students and ritual murder

    This week we're putting one of the strangest games we've ever seen in the spotlight. A one-against-many game where one player knows all the secrets and everyone else has no idea. Where one player makes horrible things happen and the rest can do nothing to stop it... except travel back in time whenever the horrible thing happens, now knowing a little more about what's coming. It's weird, it's extremely difficult to explain, and it's definitely not for everyone.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Aaron Zack
    Games mentioned: Tragedy Looper, Pandemic, Pandemic: On the Brink
    We also mention a series of video games called "Persona", or "Shin Megami Tensei", which appear to have been very inspirational to the creators of Tragedy Looper.

    Season 2
    Published: December 2nd, 2014 Length: 00:18:00
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  • Guru Voodoo: Guru's Dream

    This never happens

    In this week's Guru Voodoo episode, we face a truly unique situation: a blank cheque to recommend anything we want. What do you get when you give a game expert free reign to teach you any game they want? Spoiler: you don't get Monopoly. In fact, if you're not a game expert yourself, you won't get anything you've ever heard of before. Listen and find out what we'd bring you if we could really have our way.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Agricola, Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Quo Vadis?, Lifeboats, Intrigue, Drum Roll, Isla Dorada, Ascending Empires, Battlestar Galactica, Santiago, Vegas Showdown, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness, Fury of Dracula, Scotland Yard, Cosmic Encounter, Robo Rally, Dune

    Season 2
    Published: November 25th, 2014 Length: 00:15:08
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  • Food and Drink

    Hazards at the game table

    Who doesn't enjoy having snacks and drinks while they play? Good food can make the experience of playing a good game even better. But greasy fingers and spilled drinks can physically destroy a game, ensuring that nobody will ever have fun playing it again. How can you avoid these dangers at the game table without forgoing gastro pleasures?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Aaron Zack

    Season 2
    Published: November 19th, 2014 Length: 00:16:47
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  • You Think That's Funny?

    The truth about humour in games

    Lots of games try to be funny, but jokes in board games are almost never as funny as they're supposed to be. And even if the joke is funny, it could still fall flat at the game table in any number of ways when you read it out. The laughter in a game has to arise from the people playing it, not from jokes written by someone who's not even there. So how can a game create situations that make players laugh?

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Christen Traviss
    Games mentioned: Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, Caverna, Primordial Soup, Citadels, Can't Stop!, Poker, Battlestar Galactica, The Resistance, Dead of Winter, Pandemic, Space Alert, The Game of Life, Suburbia, Dungeon Petz, Time's Up!, Riff-Raff, Ghost Blitz, Hamsterrolle, The Three Little Pigs, Say Anything, Telestrations, Schmovie

    Season 2
    Published: November 11th, 2014 Length: 00:16:09
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  • Game Spotlight: Mice and Mystics

    A fairy tale adventure with heroic mice battling evil rats

    This week we throw the game spotlight on one of the prettiest games we've ever covered. It's a game that incorporates a delightful story with a simple rule set for a dungeon-crawling, monster-slaying, co-operative fantasy adventure. All the players work together to save the king from shapeshifted minions of darkness. Of course, no game is for everyone. Could this be a game for you?

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Christen Traviss
    Games mentioned: Mice and Mystics, Claustrophobia, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Descent, Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft

    Season 2
    Published: November 4th, 2014 Length: 00:16:13
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  • Guru Voodoo: First Date

    This year's Hallowe'en episode deals with a truly terrifying situation

    We get a lot of people on first dates, both at Snake & Lattes, and at our sister bar, Snakes & Lagers. This presents our game gurus with a special challenge. On the one hand, people on a first date want to talk to each other, so it's no good bringing out a game that will hog all the attention to itself. But on the other hand, a game that recedes into the background is probably kind of boring. What's a guru to do?

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Christen Traviss
    Games mentioned: Forbidden Island, Pandemic, Castle Panic, Chess, Backgammon, Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, Ghost Blitz, Dutch Blitz, Kwizniac, Trivial Pursuit: Beatles edition, Harry Potter Trivia, Friends Trivia, Sex in the City Trivia, Timeline, Playing the Field, Art of Conversation, A Question of Scruples, Logo, If You Had To Choose, Bit of Banter, Snakes and Ladders, Candyland, Trouble, Guess Who?, 

    Season 2
    Published: October 28th, 2014 Length: 00:14:21
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  • Can You Say "Cuh-THOO-loo"?

    Games inspired by the writing of H.P.Lovecraft

    That giant green monster with the bat wings and squid-like face shows up all the time in games and in geek culture generally. Where does this "Cthulhu" character come from, and how did he get to be such a big deal? This week, in preparation for Hallowe'en, the SnakesCast talks about cosmic horror, and its place in the history of tabletop games.

    Co-hosts: Matti McLean, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game, Dungeons and Dragons, Arkham Horror, Eldrich Horror, Elder Sign

    Season 2
    Published: October 21st, 2014 Length: 00:16:20
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  • Pressure in Party Games

    They're not as easy as they look

    A lot of customers at Snakes and Lattes head straight over to the Party Games section because they expect those games will be easier to play. Here's the thing though. They may be easy to learn, but the pressure to perform in party games can make them far more difficult and stressful than even the most complex and demanding strategy games. This week we look at the reasons why party games can be the toughest of them all.

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Christen Traviss
    Games mentioned: Taboo, Agricola, The Game of Life, Charades, 25 Words or Less, Time's Up!, Cranium, Humm Bug, Pictionary, Balderdash, Snake Oil, The Game of Things, Once Upon a Time, Catch Phrase, 5-Second Rule, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Dixit, 

    Season 2
    Published: October 14th, 2014 Length: 00:15:06
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  • Game Spotlight: Ca$h 'n Gun$

    A look at the new edition, and a comparison with the old

    We fairly often get requests for "that game where you point the plastic guns at each other". And for a couple of years, we couldn't actually fulfil that request because it was tragically out of print. But a new edition of Ca$h 'N Gun$ has just been released, and we couldn't be happier. This week the gurus look at both editions of this beloved game. Will the new edition retain the simple but nasty-mined appeal of the original?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Ca$h N' Gun$, Munchkin

    Season 2
    Published: October 7th, 2014 Length: 00:16:18
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  • Guru Voodoo: Stabby, Yet Not Stabby

    There's stabbing, and then there's stabbing

    One of the best things about working at Snakes and Lattes is the huge variety of guests you get to meet, and all their wildly varying tastes in games. It can be a challenge though, especially when part of the group wants something intense and stabby, while some of them are clearly uncomfortable with that idea. What's a game guru to do? The secret is that not all stabbing is created equal. Listen and find out all about it.

    Co-hosts: Matti McLean, Colin Young
    Games mentioned: The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet, Lifeboats, The Resistance, Werewolf, Shadow Hunters, Bang!, Citadels, Lost Temple, Mascarade, King of Tokyo, Cosmic Encounter, Libertalia, Revolution, Pit, I'm the Boss!, Panic on Wall Street!, Isla Dorada, Hey! That's My Fish!, The Three Little Pigs, Strike!

    Season 2
    Published: September 30th, 2014 Length: 00:15:29
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  • Economic Games

    Dolla-dolla-bill-something-something

    When you say the words "economic game", a lot of people's eyes just glaze over. But look at how many of the most popular games are, at heart, about economics: Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, The Game of Life... playing with pretend money, buying and selling expensive things can be a lot of fun. How can a subject that seems so boring on the surface be so popular and enjoyable for so many players?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Power Grid, Suburbia,  Intrigue, I'm the Boss, Le Havre, Agricola, Puerto Rico, Axis & Allies, City of Remnants, Panic on Wall Street!, Pit, Rampage, Connect Four, Cranium, Tsuro, Hotels, Kemet, Ca$h 'N Gun$, SmallWorld, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Agents of S.M.E.R.S.H., Supremacy, Dice Town, Vegas Showdown, Dominion

    In this episode, we mention having recorded a game spotlight episode on Ca$h 'N Gun$ that hasn't aired yet. OMG SPOILARZ!

    Season 2
    Published: September 23rd, 2014 Length: 00:16:04
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  • Replayability

    Games you can play over and over

    When you buy a video game, chances are you'll play through it once and then never again. When you buy a book, you might read it a second time years later, but you know it'll end the same way it did last time. Board games are different. You never know how they'll end, because that's up to the players. Of course, not all games can hold up to repeated plays. Some of them get old and repetitive. But how much of a problem is this, really?

    Co-hosts: Mikhail Honoridez, Mandy Jelsma
    Games mentioned: Cards Against Humanity, Puerto Rico, The Duke, Dominion, Settlers of Catan, The Game of Life, DC Heroes Deckbuilding Game, Risk: StarCraft, Adventure Time: Card Wars, Lords of Waterdeep, Kwizniac, Timeline, Cranium, Quelf, Hive, Risk, Mouse Trap, Crocodile Dentist, Don't Wake Daddy!, Pop-Up Pirate, Loopin' Louie, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Boardgame, Yahtzee, Clue, King of Tokyo, Pit, Magic: The Gathering, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Say Anything, Telestrations, Citadels, Poker, Coup, Skull and Roses

    Season 2
    Published: September 16th, 2014 Length: 00:15:18
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  • That's Not Fair!

    ...Or is it?

    Most people would say that a good game has to be fun. But does a good game have to be fair? For a lot of players, the feeling that a game is unfair can really suck the enjoyment out of it. But different players have wildly different opinions about whether certain games are fair or not. As long as nobody's actually cheating or breaking the rules, what makes a game fair or unfair, and how does that affect the experience of playing it?

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: Munchkin, Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Chess,  Magical Athlete, Diplomacy, Puerto Rico, Hanabi

    Season 2
    Published: September 9th, 2014 Length: 00:14:03
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  • Game Spotlight: Collectible Games

    Brilliant invention, or evil plot? You decide!

    Collectible Card Games (or CCGs) dominated the hobby game scene during the 1990s, and while they're not as prominent as they used to be, they're still a unique and fascinating type of game. Instead of buying a complete copy, you collect the cards in random packs, like sports cards. Then, when you want to play, you select a few dozen cards from your collection and pit them against your opponents.

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Marvel VS, San Juan, Call of Cthulhu Card Game, 7 Wonders, Dominion, Marvel Legendary, Marvel DiceMasters

    Season 2
    Published: September 2nd, 2014 Length: 00:15:17
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  • 20th Century Classics: Trouble

    ...and all those other descendants of "Cross and Circle" games

    Lots of people have fond childhood memories of the "pop-a-matic" die in the centre of this game's board. But there's more to this game than a plastic gimmick. Trouble descends from an ancient line of board games, and some of its many cousins are quite popular in their own right. 20th-Century classics month closes this week by getting into Trouble.

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: Trouble, Yut, Pachisi, Parcheesi, Sorry!, Aggravation, That's Life!, Cartagena, Monopoly, Risk

    Season 2
    Published: August 26th, 2014 Length: 00:14:48
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  • 20th Century Classics: Battleship

    YOU SANK MY BATTLESHIP

    Most of the games in our 20th Century Classics series are for at least four players, but one in particular is for two players only: Battleship. Few games are requested so often at Snakes and Lattes by couples, because few other two-player games are so well-known and so well-loved. What's the appeal of Battleship, and how well does it stand the test of time?

    Co-hosts: Emilie Finnerty, Kyle Maticic
    Games mentioned: Battleship, Guess Who, Salvo
    (Sorry about the long pause at the beginning of the episode. We'll try to clean it up soon.)

    Season 2
    Published: August 19th, 2014 Length: 00:14:47
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  • 20th Century Classics: Yahtzee

    One of the biggest sellers of all time

    Though a few games could be said to have a higher public profile than Yahtzee, virtually none can match its sales figures. A staple of North American culture, this simple dice game struggled for success in its early days, and its purveyors had to find unusual ways to get it into the public eye. Find out how they did it in this episode, as 20th Century classics month continues.

    Co-hosts: Colin Young, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Yahtzee, King of Tokyo, Bang! The Dice Game, Roll Through the Ages, Elder Sign, Trains and Stations, Yamslam

    Season 2
    Published: August 12th, 2014 Length: 00:15:36
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  • 20th Century Classics: Scrabble

    20th-Century Classics month returns!

    The mid-1900s were a remarkable time for board games. Last year we looked at Monopoly, Risk, Clue and the Game of Life. This year we'll take a close look at four more classics from that era, starting with one of the most popular, most iconic, and most fiercely competitive games ever published: Scrabble!

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Christen Traviss
    Games mentioned: Scrabble, Taboo, Probe, Jenga, Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly, Word on the Street, Bananagrams, Upwords, Boggle, Crossword Pyramids, Buy Word

    Season 2
    Published: August 5th, 2014 Length: 00:16:54
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