San Marcos Board Gamers More fun than you can shake a meeple at

30Dec/160

2016 Reviewed and a Look Ahead

Posted by Chris Aylott

It's almost the new year, and a good time to take a step back. How did 2016 stack up for the San Marcos Board Gamers?

8Sep/160

The Top 5 Star Trek Board Games

Posted by Chris Aylott

"The Man Trap" premiered on September 8, 1966, which means that Star Trek has been living long and prospering for fifty years! If you'd like to celebrate with a board game and something... green...  here are five great choices.

29Jul/150

Why Are My Kickstarter Releases On Time?

Posted by Chris Aylott

A few days ago, I received shipping notifications for the releases of Tesla vs. Edison and Evolution: Flight. My first thought was "yay!" And my second thought was, "I hope I can keep up with all my new games?" And my third thought was "What's with all these game releases happening all at once?"

15Jul/150

This Game Won’t Work: 5 Classic Games That Shouldn’t Be Apps

Posted by Chris Aylott

With the new Splendor app enjoying good reviews and 7 Wonders launching an open beta, publishers are falling over themselves to convert board games into apps. But there are a few games out there that might not work so well. Here are our top 5 games that probably shouldn't be licensed just yet:

8Jul/150

ePawn Arena: Do Gamers Need It?

Posted by Chris Aylott

Gamers love gadgets. Gamers love games. It should be no surprise that gamers want to combine these loves, and a new product just launched on Kickstarter to do that. But is the ePawn Arena for real, or is it just another tabletop white elephant?

2Jun/150

Is Kickstarter Bundling Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted by Chris Aylott

When I saw the Kickstarter for Rikki Tahta's new game Melee, a herd of thoughts stampeded through my brain. "He created Coup! I love Coup!" came first, followed by "Will my wife notice me backing yet another Kickstarter?" and "What will I do if a big box of games arrives in September?"

29May/150

200 Members! What’s Next?

Posted by Chris Aylott

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been traveling around and doing some consulting for the last few months. I didn't have a lot of time to write blogs or manage the group, but it seemed to get along just fine without me. We're now at 200 members and growing, so the question is, "What's next?"

There's a strong argument for just going along the way we have gone, whether we have 200 members or more. Right now, our minimal organization is low stress for everyone. We get together every couple of weeks, we play some games. Since the whole point of games is to relax and have fun, that's a pretty good mission.

It's also worth noting that we're not exactly living in a gaming desert. Austin has had a lively scene since before our group started, and it remains busy with several groups and a board game cafe. Since we got rolling, other groups like the New Braunfels Board Gamers have helped us fill the local play niche, and gamer-driven businesses like Childs' Play and the Hungry Gamer have popped up. We've got it pretty good.

King of Tokyo atour January library meetup.

King of Tokyo at our January library meetup.

Good Enough?

That said, I remain a little concerned about sustainability and longevity. 200 members is a great milestone, but in practice less than 10% of the people who signed up for the group turn up at meetups.

Some of that is the nature of the Meetup beast, as well as the reality that we're busy people with limited windows for gaming. But it makes the group a little fragile. A few people moving out of town could easily drop turnout to the point where it's hard to get together at all.

There's also the matter of outreach. 200 members on the Meetup group means that we've done a great job of attracting interest through the Internet, but we're not so good at bringing new people in off the street. A few people have checked us out, and some of them have sat down and tried a game, but very few of them have turned up for a second meeting. I'd like to see more happening there.

In the end, I'm not sure what the next step is. There are a few things I'd like to see: more specialized events like a Day of Diplomacy or a living card game get-together, more outreach events that bring in new or younger players, maybe even an all-day event or mini-convention. But I don't know what the route from here to there is yet, and I would be very excited to hear some suggestions.

27May/150

The Headingley Games Club has 3 Tips for Gaming Long and Prospering

Posted by Chris Aylott

This blog has been dormant for too long! I'm happy to report that despite the six months of travel that kept me away from the keyboard, the San Marcos Board Gamers are going strong and meeting several times a month. I also had the chance to pick up some tips about gaming from the Headingley Games Club in Leeds, England.

The Headingley Games Club was my home away from gaming home for several weeks this spring. I was keeping busy consulting for a children's media company during the day, but the off hours would sometimes hang a little heavy. (After all, there are only so many glorious 900-year-old ruins to explore.) Fortunately, the gaming scene in Leeds is both lively and friendly.

I first dropped in on the Headingley Games Club at one of their semi-annual Games Days. These are all-day Saturday events held at the club's usual venue, but with a little more space and a lot more people. There are all sorts of people and all sorts of games being played, from casual card games to full-on recreation of the battle of Agincourt. Despite a crowd that would do justice to a small convention, everyone was friendly and cheerful, and the afternoon and evening flew by.

Refighting the Battle of Agincourt at the Headingley Games Club

Refighting the Battle of Agincourt
at the Headingley Games Club

I was hooked after that first Games Day, and made a point of stopping in at their regular meeting every Thursday night. My respect for the Headingley Games Club grew even further when I learned they have been getting together since 1978. Almost forty years of gaming -- that's longevity!

What's Their Secret?

After a few weeks of observation, some patterns seemed clear. The Headingley Games Club's success seems to be based on three basic principles:

  1. Keep it regular. The club is there every week without fail, even on Election Night. I grew to appreciate knowing exactly where I would be every Thursday night.
  2. Keep it hospitable. Everyone in the club was quick to welcome new players and invite them to sit down for a game. The (free) biscuits and (50p) tea on the sideboard didn't hurt either.
  3. Keep friendly with the venue. The club meets up in a neat local arts space called the HEART Cafe, and works hard to maintain good relations. Club members regularly order from the cafe -- which reciprocates by delivering right to the game room -- and everyone helps out with setup and cleanup. It's a win-win relationship for everyone.

It was a great trip, and I enjoyed the time spent with a veteran game club that's doing everything right. But I'm even happier to be back. In my next post we'll take a look around and see how the club has fared in my absence.

4Sep/140

3 Reasons Kids Should Play Werewolf

Posted by Chris Aylott

It was a dark and scary night! The convention function room was silent, waiting for the little girl's response. She hefted the mike, put a steely look on her face, and firmly told the villagers, "I am NOT a werewolf!"

Facing down the villagers in Werewolf

Facing down the villagers in Werewolf.

It was all just a game, of course. My daughter was playing Werewolf, and doing pretty well considering that her father had just been exposed as a werewolf and she had a very good chance of being deemed guilty by association.

Some people may wonder: why do I let my kids play a game of pretending to be dark scary ravenous monsters? To which I can only say, "It's good for them!"

Read on for three good reasons why:

2Sep/140

A Change of Seasons

Posted by Chris Aylott

September is here! And while it may still feel like summer down here in Central Texas, the seasons are changing and fall is on the way. Which leads me to wonder: why don't games do more with slow changes like seasons?