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.

  • Game Spotlight: Welcome To the Dungeon

    We've got fun and games and monsters and death

    Fantasy games don't have to be complicated. You can go into a dungeon, kill some monsters and get some treasure and feel awesome about it in this simple little game that only takes 20 or 30 minutes. But here's the thing: the other players aren't going to make it that easy for you. Find out all about this intriguing little game of bragging and brinksmanship in this week's episode.

    Co-hosts: Mikhail Honoridez, Amanda McKnight
    Games mentioned: Welcome to the Dungeon, Dungeon of Mandom, Love Letter, Rumble In the Dungeon, Gauntlet of Fools, Cockroach Poker, Skull

    Season 3
    Published: August 4th, 2015 Length: 00:15:24
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  • Guru Voodoo: Roleplayers

    Bringing the love of board games to RPG players

    Tabletop roleplaying games may be an even smaller niche than board games, but they do have an extraordinarily creative and passionate fan base. Some of those players might hear about the rise of board games and be tempted to see what they have to offer. But board games represent a much more constrained world than they might be used to, and there are other obstacles that could deter them as well. What's the best way to introduce a roleplayer to the world of board games?

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: Dungeons & Dragons, Super Dungeon Explore, Arcadia Quest, Descent, Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Driz'zt, Temple of Elemental Evil, Lords of Waterdeep, Dominion, Legendary Encounters, Marvel Legendary, Dungeon Roll, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Samurai Spirit, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Betrayal At House On the Hill, Once Upon a Time, Dixit, A Touch of Evil, Arkham Horror

    Season 3
    Published: July 28th, 2015 Length: 00:15:27
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  • Game Spotlight: Colt Express

    The Spiel Des Jahres dark horse that took the big prize

    Between its beautiful components, exciting Wild West theme, and clever yet accessible gameplay, Colt Express has a lot going for it. But the coveted Spiel Des Jahres award almost always goes to a game with non-violent subject matter, which is why none of us on the SnakesCast predicted that it would win. But it did win, and this week we're talking about why.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Mikhail Honoridez
    Games mentioned: Colt Express, Robo Rally

    Season 3
    Published: July 21st, 2015 Length: 00:16:43
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  • Superheroes

    A genre with unique challenges for game designers

    Supers have conquered the box office, but through most of the board game renaissance of the past decade or two, they've been hard to find on the tabletop. That's because it's really hard to bring super-heroism to a board game that actually makes sense. A few recent hits have broken through though, and we'll be talking about them in this week's episode.

    Co-hosts: Emilie Finnerty, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Sentinels of the Multiverse, Marvel Legendary, DC Comics Deck-Building Game, Marvel Dice Masters, DC Comics Dice Masters, Justice League Strategy Game

    Season 3
    Published: July 14th, 2015 Length: 00:20:39
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  • Game Spotlight: Machi Koro

    The clear Spiel des Jahres frontrunnier... which did not win

    Guess what, everyone? We were wrong again about the "obvious" SDJ winner this year! Thrill to our epic discussion of the game we were sure was going to take home the top honours! Gasp at the gurus' collective indifference toward this broadly beloved game! And wonder at the world that might have been if Colt Express hadn't scored a surprise victory!

    Co-hosts: Emilie Finnerty, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Machi Koro, Colt Express, The Game: Spiel so Lange Du Kanst, Dominion, Settlers of Catan, Tic-Tac-Toe

    Season 3
    Published: July 7th, 2015 Length: 00:16:04
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  • Guru Voodoo: Sullen Teens

    There is no boredom like a teenager's boredom

    Being a teenager can be pretty frustrating sometimes. If you're older, you probably still remember what it was like. And few things can be as annoying to a teenager as time wasted when you could have been doing something you actually wanted to do. Like, say, if your friends dragged you out to a board game café and you're not really into board games. How can a game guru help a teen in that position to actually have a good time?

    Co-hosts: St.Stella, Nick Rovers
    Games mentioned: Cards Against Humanity, Boom-Boom Balloon, Avalon, Say Anything, Game of Things, Riff Raff, Concept, Cockroach Poker, The Adventurers, Set, Splendor, NHL Icebreaker, Kaosball

    Season 3
    Published: June 30th, 2015 Length: 00:15:35
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  • Debating Games

    Things can get really ugly really fast

    Nobody likes games that start arguments, right? Except there are lots of games that directly involve discussion and debate with your opponents, and some of those games are really popular. When you're at the game table, where do you draw the line between a debate and an argument? What kind of verbal sparring is acceptable and fun, and when does it become a problem?

    Co-hosts: Emilie Finnerty, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Scattergories, Word on the Street, Lifeboats, Riff Raff, Werewolf, The Resistance, Shadows Over Camelot, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Shadow Hunters, Lords of Waterdeep, Puerto Rico, Who Would Win?, A Question of Scruples

    Season 3
    Published: June 23rd, 2015 Length: 00:16:28
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  • The Alpha Player

    That one player who takes over your co-op games

    When you play a co-operative game, everybody wants to win, and everybody wants to help everybody win. But what happens when one player knows the game a lot better than the rest... and really REALLY wants to win? Often they end up telling you what you would have to do on your turn to ensure everyone wins. And you've just fallen victim to the Alpha Player. This week we talk about the various ways you can deal with the problem.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Last Night On Earth, Shadows Over Camelot, Space Alert, XCOM, Escape: Curse of the Temple, Space Cadets, Hanabi, Lord of the Rings, Tragedy Looper, Shadow Hunters, The Resistance, Pandemic

    Season 3
    Published: June 16th, 2015 Length: 00:16:40
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  • Party vs. Strategy

    The ultimate showdown at the tabletop

    Fans of party games and fans of strategy games often have trouble seeing eye to eye. But that doesn't mean they can't enjoy playing together, especially if they're mindful of the reasons why their friends play games. With a little effort and empathy, a good time really can be had by all. This week we talk about ways to bridge that gap.

    Co-hosts: St.Stella, Nick Rovers
    Games mentioned: Taboo, Charades, Balderdash, Cards Against Humanity, Say Anything, Telestrations, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Cash 'n Guns, Coup, Love Letter, The Resistance: Avalon, Lords of Waterdeep, Catan, Risk, Battlestar Galactica, Carcassonne, Dead of Winter, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Cranium, Pandemic, XCOM

    Season 3
    Published: June 9th, 2015 Length: 00:14:18
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  • Game Spotlight: Ladies & Gentlemen

    A game about being the best-dressed

    We don't see many games about clothes, and we certainly don't see many games about married couples. But this week we're shining the game spotlight on both. You and your spouse will work as a team to make sure the lady has the best outfit at the ball, outshining all those other nasty couples. But in comedic Victorian fashion, there will be pitfalls and pratfalls along the way. Is this a game for you? Is it a game for a board game café?

    Co-hosts: St. Stella, Nick Rovers
    Games mentioned: Ladies & Gentlemen

    Season 3
    Published: June 2nd, 2015 Length: 00:14:56
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  • Guru Voodoo: Tired Hardcores

    What do you do with experts who are too tired to think?

    Some of the game gurus lament hearing the phrase "we don't want to have to think" from a customer, but even the most hard-core boardgame enthusiast gets tired or hung over from time to time, and ends up looking for something simple and undemanding. But the kinds of simple games they enjoy aren't the same ones enjoyed by more casual players. Or are they?

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Dan Legault
    Games mentioned: Puerto Rico, Descent, Battleship, Ghost Blitz, Spot it!, Hey That's My Fish!, Three Little Pigs, King of Tokyo, Star Realms, Lord of the Rings Deckbuilding Game, DC Comics Deckbuilding Game, Street Fighter Deckbuilding Game, Machi Koro, Agricola, Le Havre, Lords of Waterdeep, Kingsburg, Revolution!, For Sale!, Trains and Stations, Battle Beyond Space, GravWell, Eight-Minute Empire, Dead of Winter, Tales of the Arabian Nights, A Touch of Evil, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Sushi Go!, Coloretto, Love Letter, Pit, Sheriff of Nottingham, Boom-Boom Balloon, Magical Athlete, Two Rooms and a Boom

    Season 3
    Published: May 26th, 2015 Length: 00:15:51
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  • Interactive, Strategic, Fun

    Three words that mean very different things to different people

    If you're a game expert and you want to recommend something good for a new game player to try, you'll need to ask them what they like. But when you ask them, the words they use won't always mean what you think they mean. Three of the most commonly heard words that crop up in those answers at Snakes and Lattes are "interactive," "strategy," and "fun." This week we'll talk about the different meanings those words have for different people when it comes to board games.

    Co-hosts: St. Stella, Nick Rovers
    Games mentioned: Splendor, Risk, Settlers of Catan, The Resistance, Cranium, Jenga, Scattergories, Risk, Eclipse, Ghost Blitz, Lords of Waterdeep

    Season 3
    Published: May 19th, 2015 Length: 00:18:10
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  • Cult of the New

    ...And the Pile of Shame

    Sometimes, when people get into board games, they can see a really cool-looking new game and feel compelled to buy it, even though they still haven't played all their other games. In time, that pile of unplayed games becomes a pile of shame. How does this happen? And how can we avoid these pitfalls?

    Co-hosts: Dan Legault, Mandy Jelsma
    Games mentioned: Puerto Rico, XCOM, Summoner Wars, Smash Up, Ladies & Gentlemen, Coup, Black Fleet, Francis Drake, 1812: The Invasion of Canada, Divinare, Robinson Crusoe, Galaxy Trucker, Space Alert, Descent, Dice Town, Yinsh, Kittens in a Blender, El Grande, Dead of Winter, The Duke, Survive!, Manila, Dune

    Season 3
    Published: May 12th, 2015 Length: 00:18:01
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  • Game Spotlight: Dead of Winter

    The best new zombie game in a long time

    There's no question about it: zombies are an overplayed genre in the world of board games. More and more games about zombies keep shambling out of development houses and publishers around the world, and it gets harder and harder to get excited about new ones. But last year, Dead of Winter accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting the game gurus at Snakes and Lattes to love zombies again.

    Co-hosts: Mandy Jelsma, Dan Legault
    Games mentioned: Dead of Winter, ZOMBIES!!!, Zombie Dice, Shadows Over Camelot, Battlestar Galactica, Grave Robbers From Outer Space

    Season 3
    Published: May 5th, 2015 Length: 00:14:21
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  • Guru Voodoo: Language Barrier

    Play is a universal language

    Board games are a social activity, and socializing almost always involves talking. But what if some of the people at the table with you don't share a common language with you? This week's guru voodoo is all about transcending the language barrier, and the games that will make that possible.

    Co-host: Chris Matheson
    Games mentioned: Diplomacy, Lifeboats, Hanabi, The Resistance, Coup, Jungle Speed, Ghost Blitz, Spot it, Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Settlers of Catan, Splendor, Botswana, No Thanks!, 6 Nimmt!, Chess, Checkers, Connect Four, Race for the Galaxy, Yinsh, Kulami, Balderdash, Dixit, Taboo, Charades, Catch Phrase, Incan Gold, Cash N Guns, Formula D, Riff Raff, Villa Paletti, PitchCar, Pit, Cockroach Poker

    Season 3
    Published: April 28th, 2015 Length: 00:15:21
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  • The Play Contract

    All those unspoken agreements at the game table

    Whether you realize it or not, getting together to play games with your friends means agreeing to a contract with them. Some parts of that contract are near-universal: you agree not to cheat, for instance. But other parts can vary from one group to the next. Like, maybe you agree to play as hard as you can, or maybe you agree to go easy on each other. When disagree about the terms of the play contract, it can cause real problems. This week we'll talk about how to avoid those problems.

    Co-hosts: Dan Legault, Mandy Jelsma
    Games mentioned: Bohnanza, Arkham Horror, Merchants & Marauders, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Risk Legacy, The Resistance, Forbidden Island, Ginkgopolis, Munchkin

    Season 3
    Published: April 21st, 2015 Length: 00:15:43
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  • Cute Games

    Adorability matters

    Every game projects an image, and that image can have a huge impact on the experience when you play it, whether or not it actually has anything to do with how you play. One of the most powerful ways to make a game accessible to the easily-intimidated isn't to make the rules simpler or the game more friendly, but to put cute pictures on the box and on the pieces. Why does cuteness have such a powerful effect on us, and how does it change the way we play?

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Chris Matheson
    Games mentioned: Hey That's My Fish!, Bugs in the Kitchen, Funny Bunny, Takenoko, Kittens in a Blender, Arcadia Quest, Super Dungeon Explore, Flash Duel, Boss Monster, Munchkin, Sushi Go!, The Duke, Zertz

    Season 3
    Published: April 14th, 2015 Length: 00:14:25
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  • Game Spotlight: Dungeons and Dragons

    What's the deal with D&D?

    Lots of people have heard of the legendary grandfather of all roleplaying games, but not as many have actually played it, or even have much of any idea of what it is. This week we'll try to provide an introduction to the concept of sitting around a table with your friends and telling stories of fantastic adventure where you are the heroes. It can be an intimidating challenge to get started, but for many, the rewards are well worth it.

    Co-hosts: Amanda McKnight, Chris Matheson
    Games mentioned: Dungeons and Dragons, Castle Ravenloft, Descent 2nd Edition, Prime Time Adventures, Dog Eat Dog, FATE, FATE Accelerated

    Season 3
    Published: April 7th, 2015 Length: 00:19:36
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  • Guru Voodoo: Spectators

    What game can you recommend for someone who just doesn't want to play?

    It doesn't happen often, but sometimes the gurus will have to decide what to bring to a table where not everyone will be playing. If you've ever had a friend or family member who wants to spend time with you at the game table, but doesn't want to play, this week's episode is for you. We'll talk about ways to convince them to join in, or to make the experience enjoyable for them even if they don't play with you.

    Co-hosts: Matti McLean, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: Boom-Boom Balloon, Bridge, Hearts, Euchre, Isla Dorada, Jenga, Escape: Curse of the Temple, Splendor, Terror In Meeple City, Tsuro, Tsuro of the Seas, Indigo, Quarto, Quoridor, Batik, Pentago, Risk: Legacy, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Agents of SMERSH

    Season 3
    Published: March 31st, 2015 Length: 00:16:11
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  • Guess The Word

    The other kind of party game

    Party games come in two basic flavours: "who did what" games, and "guess the word" games. We talked the first kind back in season 1, and this week we're talking about the second kind. If you're looking at a card with a word printed on it, and you need to get somebody to guess what that word is, but you're not allowed to tell them, you're playing one of dozens of different "guess the word" games. How can such a simple concept stay fresh after so many games have been built around it?

    Co-hosts: Matti McLean, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: Balderdash, Charades, Funglish, Concept, Taboo, Catch Phrase, Time's Up!, Pictionary, Boom Boom Balloon, Guesstures, Cranium, 25 Words or Less, Reverse Charades, Concept, Telestrations, Pictomania

    Season 3
    Published: March 24th, 2015 Length: 00:18:45
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