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.

  • Drinking Games

    as if we needed more ways to humiliate ourselves at the tabletop

    The most popular beverages in human history have always been alcoholic beverages, so it should come as no surprise that drinking games are among the most popular games. We don't have any at Snakes and Lattes of course, for perfectly logical reasons. But this week on the SnakesCast, we're going to talk about drinking games, and (beyond the obvious) the reasons they're appealing.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Scott Moyle
    Games mentioned: Beer Pong, Flip Cup, Bounce Off, Thumb Master, Ring of Fire, Kings, Gotcha!

    Season 3
    Published: December 22nd, 2015 Length: 00:15:08
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  • When Game Boxes Lie

    And tell you a game is good for 2 players when it clearly isn't

    How much fun is a game? It's totally subjective, and so are a lot of questions about games. But some questions should be able to produce a reliable, objective answer. Like, how big is the box? How many cards in the deck? How many people can play? That last question should be just as straightforward as the other two, but when you take into account people's preconceived ideas about how a game should work, and the amount of pressure on marketers to sell as much as they can... well, how can you tell when it's true?

    Co-hosts: Scott Moyle, Steve Tassie

    Games mentioned: Bohnanza, Catan, Carcassonne, Fury of Dracula, Cacao, Alhambra, Cards Against Humanity, Charades, Taboo, Concept, Lords of Waterdeep, Agricola, Alien Frontiers, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Trains, Risk, Kemet, Cyclades, Nexus Ops, SmallWorld, War of the Ring, Black Fleet, Pandemic, Hanabi, Witness, Last Night on Earth, Tragedy Looper, Letters From Whitechapel, Scotland Yard, I'm the Boss, Monopoly, Jenga, Animal Upon Animal, Villa Paletti, 7 Wonders, Banana Matcho

    Season 3
    Published: December 15th, 2015 Length: 00:17:36
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  • Game Spotlight: Pandemic

    ...and Pandemic Legacy

    The idea of playing a co-operative board game, where all the players work together to defeat the game itself, might have seemed strange ten years ago. Today, it seems strange that people might ever have thought it seemed strange. And that is largely because of a little game called Pandemic, which goes under the game spotlight this week. We'll also be talking about Pandemic Legacy, which a lot of people are calling game of the year for 2015.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Scott Moyle

    Games mentioned: Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy, Lord of the Rings, Dominion, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Pandemic: The Cure, Hanabi, Risk Legacy

    Season 3
    Published: December 8th, 2015 Length: 00:18:19
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  • Game Spotlight: Abraca...What?

    A game about failing at magic

    Certain things make a game really well-suited to recommending at a board game café. Cute artwork, being awful to the other players, and amusing failures, for example. But other things can make a game a pretty hard sell in that environment. Things like card counting, fantasy themes, and game mechanics that aren't easy to compare to anything well-known. This week's game spotlight shines on a title with all of the above. Let's see how it does.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Scott Moyle
    Games mentioned: Abracada...What?, Hanabi, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel At Mount Skullzfyre, A La Carte

    Season 3
    Published: December 1st, 2015 Length: 00:16:03
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  • Guru Voodoo: Get-To-Know-You Games

    Or, almost every game ever, if you're paying attention

    You can learn a lot about someone by playing with them. When you watch how people make choices, how they react to adversity, how they manage their resources, negotiate, plan, lie, tell the truth, win, and lose, you see a great deal of who they really are as people. But most of the time when people ask for a "get-to-know-you" game, that's not what they have in mind. This week on the SnakesCast, we talk about the disconnect between play and conversation, and which one is truly more revealing.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Holly Wyder

    Games mentioned: Chess, Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Quelf, Analyze Me, A Question of Scruples, Say Anything, The Game of Things, Dungeons & Dragons, Ladies and Gentlemen, Catan, Bohnanza, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Sheriff of Nottingham, Cockroach Poker, Once Upon A Time

    Season 3
    Published: November 24th, 2015 Length: 00:16:09
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  • Learning Games

    Or, learning games when you don't have a Game Guru around to teach you

    We've talked before on the SnakesCast about how to teach games, but we've never talked about how to learn them, especially when you don't know anybody who's played before. Everyone's process is different, and this week we're going to hear about some very different ideas about how to learn a game well enough to be able to teach it to your friends.

    Co-hosts: Holly Wyder, Amanda McKnight
    Games mentioned: Arkham Horror

    Season 3
    Published: November 17th, 2015 Length: 00:19:26
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  • Game Spotlight: Samurai Spirit

    Antoine Bauza's latest trip to Japan

    Acclaimed French board game designer Antoine Bauza has taken us on many trips to Japan through his games, including Tokaido, Hanabi, Takenoko, and now Samurai Spirit. It's a co-operative game based on legendary film maker Akira Kurosawa's classic "Seven Samurai". And it's just as hard to beat as Bauza's other famously punishing co-op game, Ghost Stories. What gives Samurai Spirit its strength, and what are its weaknesses?

    Co-hosts: Holly Wyder, Amanda McKnight

    Games mentioned: Samurai Spirit, Pandemic, Ghost Stories

    Season 3
    Published: November 10th, 2015 Length: 00:14:21
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  • Game Spotlight: Specter Ops

    It's not SPECial Tactics and REcon, but it's still pretty awesome

    "Hide and Seek" is one of the most popular and enduring games in all of human history, and with good reason. But modern life can present some practical barriers to that game, and so this week in the Game Spotlight we present the latest entry in the world of board games that takes on this venerable and tense dynamic of hunters and hunted. It's called Specter Ops.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Holly Wyder

    Games mentioned: Specter Ops, Scotland Yard, Fury of Dracula, Letters From Whitechapel, Nuns on the Run, The Resistance, Dark Moon

    Season 3
    Published: November 2nd, 2015 Length: 00:16:12
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  • Guru Voodoo: Long Game, Simple Rules

    This really should be an easy one...

    "Simple games are short, complicated games are long." For people into this hobby, that tends to be the rule. But every rule has exceptions, and this one has a lot of them. So if you're trying to stump the gurus, asking for a long game that's simple to learn might be a good way to do it. In this week's Guru Voodoo episode, that's the challenge we're up against.

    Co-hosts: James Soares, John Lowndes

    Games mentioned: Power Grid, Ticket to Ride, Tzolk'in: the Mayan Calendar, Flip City, Biblios, Monopoly, Risk, Poker, Phase 10, Scrabble, Super Scrabble, Uno, Pit, No Thanks!, 6 Nimmt!, Hearts, Rummy, Skip-Bo, Cards Against Humanity, Concept, Charades, Snake Oil, But Wait There's More!, The Game of Things, Say Anything, 5-Second Rule, Family Guy Trivia Game, Law & Order Trivia Game, Word on the Street, Buy Word

    Season 3
    Published: October 27th, 2015 Length: 00:13:53
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  • Deckbuilding Games

    A new(ish) genre of tabletop game

    Anyone who loves starting with something small and growing it into something massive and awesome can enjoy the basic engagement of a deckbuilding game. And although other games as early as 1993 featured building a deck of cards from a collection, it wasn't until 2008's Dominion that players would get to build their deck as part of the game itself. In this week's SnakesCast, we take a look at this popular genre and what makes it so widely beloved.

    Co-hosts: James Soares, John Lowndes

    Games mentioned: Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: The Gathering, Dominion, Flip City, Dominion: Intrigue, Star Realms, Ascension, Dice Masters, Hyperborea, Smash-Up, DC Comics Deckbuilding Game, Lord of the Rings Deckbuilding Game, Street Fighter Deckbuilding game, NHL Power Play, Trains, Mage Knight, Concordia, Legendary Encounters: An Alien Decibuilding Game, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island

    You can also download last season's episode about collectible games, like Magic: The Gathering. They feature a very different kind of deckbuilding, and were an important inspiration for the kind of modern deckbuilding games we discuss in this week's episode.

    http://podcast.snakesandlattes.com/uploads/76/GameSpotlightCollectibleGames.mp3

    Season 3
    Published: October 20th, 2015 Length: 00:15:13
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  • Game Spotlight: Cacao

    A new gateway game is born?

    Certain games form part of a kind of ludological canon. Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne... these are games whose name alone keeps them selling well. It's hard for a new game to join that hallowed group. But this week in the game spotlight, we take a close look at a game that seems to have been designed with the express purpose of taking Carcassonne's place in the canon. It's a little game called Cacao.

    Co-hosts: James Soares, John Lowndes
    Games mentioned: Carcassone, Alhambra, Cacao

    Season 3
    Published: October 13th, 2015 Length: 00:17:39
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  • Game Spotlight: Carcassonne

    Power to the meeple!

    The year was 2000. The Settlers of Catan had only recently been translated into English, and a small but dedicated groundswell of players was coming to discover an amazing new world of games. Into that world sprang a game called Carcassonne. Small, inexpensive, quick and easy to play, it was THE game to introduce to people who weren't so sure about straying from Monopoly and Uno. But that was fifteen years ago, and games have come a long way since then. How well does the original "gateway game" hold up today?

    Co-hosts: John Lowndes, James Soares

    Games mentioned: Carcassonne, King of Tokyo, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride

    Season 3
    Published: October 6th, 2015 Length: 00:16:08
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  • Teaching games

    Part two

    Jonathan finishes out his tips on teaching games this week, going into questions of what to explain, what order to explain it in, what to emphasize, and what to leave out entirely. Spoiler: it depends on a lot of things.

    Games mentioned: The Settlers of Catan, 1812: The Invasion of Canada, Quoridor

    Season 3
    Published: September 29th, 2015 Length: 00:16:29
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  • Teaching games

    Part one

    Most people don't need to be told how difficult it can be to teach people how to play a board game. There's so much to cover, and if you go about it the wrong way, even the most well-designed, most "fun" game can become a deeply unpleasant experience. This week Jonathan's on his own, sharing tips on how to teach.

    Games mentioned: Takenoko, Splendor, Quoridor, Hey! That's My Fish, Lords of Waterdeep, 1812: The Invasion of Canada, Jenga

    Season 3
    Published: September 22nd, 2015 Length: 00:14:23
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  • Nautical Games

    A ship, a crew, and the open sea

    For much of recorded history, the idea of going to sea was like the ultimate adventure for many. Traveling to distant lands across the vast and unknowable depths, and returning to tell the tale... the sea has provided grist for many of our most beloved stories. But today, nautical adventures are a relic of an earlier age, and the closest many of us will ever get to experiencing it will be at the tabletop. Are there any games that convey the feeling of these bygone adventures?

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: Black Fleet, Jamaica, Francis Drake, Pirates Cove, Merchants & Marauders, Battleship, Liar's Dice, Riff Raff, Manila, Lifeboats, Madame Ching, Panamax, Container, Steam Torpedo, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Libertalia

    Season 3
    Published: September 15th, 2015 Length: 00:20:23
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  • Game Spotlight: Vault Wars

    It's Storage Wars in D&D-land

    You've heard us mention it before, and now it's going into the game spotlight. It's the game that we played more than any other at this year's GenCon. It's a high concept with a simple but effective design to back it up. It's a crossover game that'll get reality TV fans to play a game that involves magic bows and arrows. It's Vault Wars.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: Vault Wars, Dead of Winter

    Season 3
    Published: September 8th, 2015 Length: 00:16:34
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  • Game Spotlight: Good Cop Bad Cop

    A nasty new favourite

    Social deduction games like Mafia, Werewolf, and The Resistance have been popular at Snakes & Lattes for years. They're short and simple when it comes to rules, but they're stressful and memorable just the same, because you can never be sure who's on your side. This week the Game Spotlight shines on Good Cop Bad Cop, the latest specimen of this genre to hit our tables. And it may just be the genre's biggest hit so far.

    Co-hosts: Coco Lee, Amanda McKnight
    Games mentioned: Good Cop Bad Cop, The Resistance, Skull, Spyfall, Coup, Poker, Mascarade, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Scotland Yard, Letters From Whitechapel, Shadow Hunters, Cash 'N Guns

    Season 3
    Published: September 1st, 2015 Length: 00:19:55
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  • Stag-ette Party

    A lady's last night of freedom

    What kind of games would you bring to a party for a friend who's getting married? And if all the attendees were women, how would that affect your choices? This week's Guru Voodoo is all about bachelorette parties, and how to make games an enjoyable part of the experience.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: Truth or Dare, Cards Against Humanity, Cockroach Poker, Say Anything, Things, Snake Oil, Analyze Me, A Question of Scruples, Jenga, Dimensions, The Resistance, Cash N Guns, Indigo

    Season 3
    Published: August 25th, 2015 Length: 00:16:30
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  • Games in Space

    i'm in space

    Space isn't as big a deal as it used to be in popular culture, but it's still pretty huge in board games. It's an incredibly rich and exciting theme, because of just how much possibility it contains. But tabletop games, by their very nature, are contained, bounded experiences. How can you convey the experience and the feel of a space story in a board game?

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: GravWell, Battle Beyond Space, Eclipse, Quantum, Eminent Domain, Twilight Imperium (third edition), Ascending Empires, Merchant of Venus, Firefly, Starship Catan, Xia: Legends of a Drift System, Steam Torpedo, Star Realms, Space Alert, Galaxy Trucker, Space Cadets, Space Cadets Dice Duel, The Captain Is Dead, Alien Frontiers, Mission: Red Planet, Cosmic Encounter, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek Fleet Captains, Legendary Encounters: Alien, High Frontier, Battlestations

    Season 3
    Published: August 18th, 2015 Length: 00:18:56
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  • GenCon 2015

    Our first ON THE ROAD episode

    Just a scant two weeks ago, the Snakes & Lattes Away Team road tripped down to North America's largest celebration of everything awesome on the tabletop. Along with sixty one thousand other people who love games, we played, we feasted, we socialized, and got very, very tired. This week on the SnakesCast you'll hear from us on the road before day one, at the start of day three, and on our long road trip back home. Apologies for the ambient road noise and exhaustion.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Mandy Jelsma, Chris Matheson, Angel Rivera

    Games mentioned: Vault Wars, Bling Bling Gem Stone, Zombiecide, Arcadia Quest, Kaosball, The King is Dead, Yardmaster, Good Cop Bad Cop, Catacombs

    Season 3
    Published: August 11th, 2015 Length: 00:13:39
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