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.

  • Difficult Subjects

    What does it mean to play games about horrible things?

    This episode was a challenge to record, and it ran quite a bit longer than usual, but we think it was worth it, and we hope you'll agree. We're talking about games that deal with painful, horrifying, and otherwise difficult subjects. We're talking about what it means to publish and play games that deal in areas where any art form must tread carefully. We've done our best to tread carefully here ourselves. Please let us know of any missteps.

    Co-hosts: Coco Lee, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Go, Chess, A Game of Thrones Board Game, Memoir '44, Axis & Allies, Freedom: The Underground Railroad, Six Days In Fallujah, Letters from Whitechapel, Mr. Jack, Mr. Jack Pocket, Le Fantôme de L'Opera, Chaos in the Old World, Maha Yodha, Yggdrasil, Kemet, Kittens in a Blender, Cards Against Humanity
    Notes: Of course it wasn't until after we recorded this episode that I became aware of some excellent writing about this topic on a site called The Political Gamer. If you're interested in further reading, you might want to start here:
    http://thepoliticalgamer.weebly.com/blog/the-moral...

    Special thanks to William Weiler for suggesting the topic that got us rolling on this episode.

    Season 3
    Published: March 17th, 2015 Length: 00:28:24
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  • Game Spotlight: BANG!

    It's a cowboy shootout, spaghetti-Western style

    There aren't many games about the Wild West, but there are a few, and BANG! is easily the most popular. The good: secret roles and flying bullets, and most of the time you're not sure who you need to be shooting at. The bad: a few less-than-ideal design choices. The ugly: troubling depictions of a certain racial minority. This week we're talking about all three, as well as the game's spin-offs and how they might or might not address some of the original game's shortcomings.

    Co-hosts: Matti McLean, Coco Lee
    Games mentioned: BANG!, Win Lose Banana, BANG! Walking Dead Edition, Samurai Sword, BANG! The Dice Game, Yahtzee, King of Tokyo

    Season 3
    Published: March 10th, 2015 Length: 00:16:31
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  • Game Spotlight: XCOM

    A hybrid tabletop / electronic game design

    Two weeks ago, we talked about ways to integrate digital technology with board games. This week we throw the game spotlight on a board game that would be effectively impossible without modern computer tech, while taking full advantage of the single greatest advantage of traditional tabletop game play: face-to-face social interaction.

    Co-hosts: Todd Campbell, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: XCOM, DOOM, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia, SKULL, Cockroach Poker

    Season 3
    Published: March 3rd, 2015 Length: 00:18:11
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  • Guru Voodoo: Office Events

    How to entertain your work friends with board games

    Putting on a board game event for the people at your workplace carries demands and challenges quite different from the ones you'll face when you're playing with your friends and family. And who better to fill you in on the Guru Voodoo you'll need to make that event a success than Steve Tassie, the founder of Snakes On the Go? This week he'll tell you all about the tips and tricks he uses when Snakes and Lattes runs an event.

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Todd Campbell
    Games mentioned: Cards Against Humanity, Diplomacy, Intrigue, Lifeboats, Scrabble, Settlers of Catan, Anomia, Spot It!, Ghost Blitz, Apples to Apples, Snake Oil, The Game of Things, Say Anything, Taboo, Concept, Splendour, Ticket to Ride, Click-Clack Lumberjack

    Season 3
    Published: February 24th, 2015 Length: 00:18:44
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  • Electronics on the Tabletop

    Combining technology with traditional game components

    Ever since the arrival of consumer electronics, many attempts have been made to use advances in technology to make tabletop games more exciting, but until recently, these have had very limited success. That is, until tablets and smartphones became as common as they are today. The small size and impressive power of these devices could become a game-changer... but will it?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Todd Campbell
    Games mentioned: Atmosfear, Chess, Ascension, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Pandemic, Lords of Waterdeep, Can't Stop, Ingenious, Ra, Fairy Tale, SmallWorld, Puerto Rico, Agricola, 7 Wonders, Mage Knight, Sheriff of Nottingham, Electronic Talking Battleship, Stop Thief, Alchemists, Omega Virus, Golem Arcana, XCOM

    Season 3
    Published: February 17th, 2015 Length: 00:17:16
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  • Super-Secret Scoring

    Games where you don't know what they're up to

    In most games, the goal is clear to everyone. You know what you have to do to win, and you also know what your opponents have to do to win. But there are some games where that's not entirely clear. In some games, players have secret goals and can score secret points. You could be in the middle of the game and not be at all sure whether or not you're winning. How do these games work and what makes them appealing?

    Co-hosts: Todd Campbell, Steve Tassie
    Games mentioned: Fury of Dracula, Dune, Archipelago, Dead of Winter, Ticket to Ride, Lords of Waterdeep, Princes of Florence, Agricola, Settlers of Catan, Nexus Ops, Top Secret Spies, Clans, Simply Suspects, Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise

    Season 3
    Published: February 10th, 2015 Length: 00:17:42
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  • Game Spotlight: King of Tokyo vs. King of New York

    Does the sequel surpass the original?

    Richard Garfield's "King of Tokyo" has been one of the most popular games for our guests at Snakes and Lattes ever since it was released in 2011. Its combination of dice, cards, and colourful cartoon giant monsters made it a huge hit. Three years later, it was followed up by "King of New York", a slightly more complex and demanding (and destructive) sequel. If these two games had a fight, which one would win?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: King of Tokyo, King of New York, Terror in Meeple City (a.k.a. Rampage)

    Season 3
    Published: February 3rd, 2015 Length: 00:14:16
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  • Guru Voodoo: Solitaire

    Games for one

    In the days before handheld electronic devices with decent games on them, solitaire games you could play on your tabletop were very much in demand. After all, you can't always find people to play with. What has the modern board game renaissance brought to the table for single players? And how does it stack up with the most popular solo games: the ones you play on a machine?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Solitaire, Dungeons & Dragons, Freedom: The Underground Railroad, Le Havre, Mage Knight, Shadows Over Camelot, Hanabi, Pandemic, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Mice and Mystics, Castle Ravenloft, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Agents of SMERSH, Space Alert, Escape: Curse of the Temple, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Agricola, Caverna, Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Suburbia, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Friday, Rush Hour, Khet

    Season 3
    Published: January 27th, 2015 Length: 00:16:50
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  • Dudes On A Map

    map-dudes

    For a lot of people who have never been interested in board games, no game is more repellent than one with a map board filled with little plastic soldiers. But so-called "dudes on a map" games are a mainstay among many of the most ardent board game fans. This is perhaps the most divisive genre of tabletop game. Why does it generate such strong emotional reactions on both sides?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Risk, Diplomacy, Coin Age, Eight Minute Empire, Supremacy, Titan, Little Wars, Warhammer, Space Hulk, Axis & Allies, Shogun, Fortress America, Nexus Ops, Puerto Rico, Chaos in the Old World, Kemet

    Season 3
    Published: January 20th, 2015 Length: 00:18:55
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  • Mystery Games

    A genre of books and a genre of games, both popular

    There are all kinds of stories. Adventure, suspense, science-fiction, historical... and of course, mystery. All of these genres have lots of games based on them, but only one ever gets requested at Snakes and Lattes. Why do people seek out mystery games, and which ones do the gurus recommend?

    Co-hosts: Steve Tassie, Matti McLean
    Games mentioned: Clue, Guess Who?, Battleship, 1313 Dead End Drive, Mystery Date, Dream Phone, Mr. Jack, P.I., Sleuth, Tragedy Looper, Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, Mystery of the Abbey, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

    Season 3
    Published: January 13th, 2015 Length: 00:15:43
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  • Game Spotlight: High Society and For Sale

    Two simple auction games from the 1990s

    In our inaugural episode for season 3, Jonathan throws the spotlight on two classic filler games from the bygone era of Settlers of Catan. Without a co-host, he spends the episode ruminating on the subtle differences between these two games, and the reasons why he tends to prefer the one that seems, objectively, to be not as good at the other. Is it about having control over your fate in the game, or is it about the illusion of control?

    Co-hosts: OMG NONE WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING
    Games mentioned: High Society, For Sale

    Season 3
    Published: January 6th, 2015 Length: 00:14:10
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