Board Game Gumbo: It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Board Game Gumbo: It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I had an interesting discussion with Jason Dinger recently on Twitter about our top games played this year. A fellow blogger known as Jambalaya Plays Games chimed in with a great thought. 2017 for him was not necessarily about great games, but more about great experiences.

I could not agree more!

Connecting with gamers outside my game group and into the wider world of board gaming has been the theme for 2017. Not only that, but our regular game group, the Krewe de Gumbo, just keeps getting bigger!

So, this Christmas week, I'm challenging all of the board gamers in the blogosphere to share your best experiences this year, to bring a little more positive energy before we rush head first into 2018 and push out those "Best Of" lists.

I'll start. These are in no particular order, just a list as my wife drives us to The Big Easy for our annual Crescent City Christmas.

I've made many wonderful new friends this year, including Steve O'Rourke, the Name Father. He and I share a love of naming things, playing gateway games, and talking about board games almost every day. Plus, he helps out every week on Gumbo Live! Looking forward to more Name Father contributions in 2018, plus hopefully meeting up with him at a con somewhere to play New Bedford.

I love word games, and discovered three great ones new-to-me this year. Playing a rollicking game of Monikers with Damian, Jake and Danielle of Draft Mechanic, and Sean from the Dukes of Dice was a highlight of my Dice Tower Con. But a late night session of Word Slam with the Baton Rouge crew, and many games of Wordsy with my wife and mom have been right up there too.

Those crazy guys from Rolling Dice and Taking Names love talking about Strike the board game. You can't listen to their podcasts or scan their twitter feed with Rodney Smith of Watch it Played without hearing about this dice chucking festival of frenetic fun. They hosted a Strike tourney at GEN CON 50, and I had a great time making it into the second round and matching “wits” with the likes of Danielle from Draft Mechanic, Ambie from The Dice Tower, and Jamie from The Secret Cabal Podcast. But the highlight was the Death Pact with Sean Ramirez of the Dukes Dice during the Strike tourney give away. And we won!

2017 marked a change in output for me, as we moved off of the main Dice Tower podcast after Tom Vasel’s changing of the guard, and onto the new Crowd Surfing Video cast. It was daunting at first, but I’ve really enjoyed producing the Kickstarter Lagniappe segment.  I am looking forward to researching some more great Lagniappe projects for 2018. 

It also marked our blog’s invitation to Punch Board Media.  PBM is a collection of board game content creators that has banded together to share games, stories, and support each other’s offerings. One of the absolute highlights of the year was getting to hang out with the Punch Board Media crew at GEN CON 50.  I truly enjoy discovering the new content produced by the members of PBM, and I also enjoy our banter back and forth on social media. Pull up a chair and check out Punch Board Media, where we all bring something to the table. 

I don’t need to tell you that I love playing games, but I love teaching games and evangelizing the hobby, too. A natural step in 2017 was volunteering for board game companies at conventions far and wide. I was an Envoy Herald for Indie Boards & Cards at Pax South 2017, for Stronghold Games at Dice Tower Con, and for Fireside Games at GEN CON 50. I enjoyed hanging out with the other volunteers, introducing new games to new and old gamers alike, and getting to know the people behind the cardboard. If you like the hobby, you should consider being a Herald.

Pax South 2017 was a big highlight. Gaming with my buddy Phillip, using my "scout skills" to navigate the halls with Mina from Mina's Fresh Cardboard, and an amazing Tex-Mex dinner near the Con with Charlie and his Louisiana crew -- all of these were great memories. I just wish my son, Jack, did not have to cancel at the last minute!

I love party games, especially if they have a little fun trivia competitions baked in. Vegas Wits & Wagers is one of the best that I have played, and one of my highlights was learning the game from the folks at NorthStar Games with Max & Alex of the Dukes of Dice at Dice Tower Con. I was pretty far back the entire game, but got some lucky guesses on the last round and nosed out the win!

GEN CON 50 was big, loud, and a huge blast. But my favorite memories revolved around cheering for my buddies, Bradly, Bryan and Dave from the Krewe de Gumbo as they competed at the Star Wars Destiny national tourney at GEN CON 50. And they did well -- Bradly even made the top eight! Honorable mentions goes to those early morning gab fests with Sean Jones of Envoy and Patrick Hillier of the WDYPTW podcast, as well as gaming with the Slidell crew and with the Alabama crew (Jeremy, the Game Geek Ninja and his friends, Nick & Carla of Weird Giraffe Games).

Our local comic con has really adopted us as the gaming hosts. This year, we asked Envoy to help us really charge up the excitement. With help from Steve, our area leader, we blew the roof off of the prizes that we gave out, tremendously expanded the library, and doubled the size of board gaming at our local con. We had over 300 gamers register to play with us -- which is not bad for a small town con!

Carlos is a frequent subject of our game nights, but for work reasons, he had to relocate to the frigid north in Iowa. That’s okay, we got to hang with him again at GEN CON and at some of our game nights when he came back. He is our resident thematic board game experience king, and it was good to get some of those back to the table.

Okay, I said I was not going to rank any of the experiences, but I will give you my top two!

Number two: Starting up Gumbo Live! -- the only Facebook Live talk show dedicated to board gaming -- has been a huge highlight for me. I’ve got to chat with friends I’ve made in the hobby, talk to designers and artists that I admire, and hang out with board game media content creators, game company owners, and designers from all over the country. Every Tuesday, I cannot wait to turn on the mic and chat with the latest guest. We have a great Season Two line up set already, so I am pumped and enthusiastic about the show.

And finally, number one! Jack and I took the plunge, after hearing Alex Goldsmith rave about Mike Fitzgerald’s card based masterpiece, Baseball Highlights 2045. We played it every night for a week leading up to Dice Tower Con, because we both wanted to enter the Dukes of Dice tourney. Watching Jack win the Dukes of Dice Baseball Highlights 2045 tourney at Dice Tower Con was easily my favorite gaming moment of the year, and I am sad that he will likely miss next year’s tourney as he ships out with the Marines for boot camp. Oh well, we have six months to play together before he leaves!

And that’s a wrap on 2017. I could not list every highlight from this year, but this was some of the more memorable ones. December is a time of giving thanks, and I want to thank each and every person who shared a little of their time to chat with me about gaming, or teach me a new game, or enjoyed any game that I had the pleasure of teaching. And I also want to thank all of the media, designers, owners, and gamers who shared their time with me on Gumbo Live! Looking forward to getting you back on the show in 2018. 

What were your highlights of the year? Post in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. I’d love to hear your stories!

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

--- B.J. 

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