Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My favorite gaming podcasts

I have tested various podcasts in my life, and have bailed on many. There are lots of fair podcasts out there, but few great ones. After trying out a number of podcasts about my interests, there are only three that I continue to listen to regularly. These three podcasts are worth the time because they always offer something new, they offer information that will benefit me as a gamer, and they are fun to listen to on account of the interesting or funny commentary given by the hosts. Two of these podcasts are boardgaming podcasts, the third is a podcast for game masters of RPGs.

I have listened to The Dice Tower for a long time. I quickly came to enjoy the loads of information presented by Tom Vasel and his co-host, Sam Healey. The Dice Tower hosts are missionaries in South Korea who find time to put together excellent shows.

Tom is into almost every type of board and card game. He has 1000+ games in his collection. He publishes his personal top 100 games every year (this year he did the top 200). He is also a prolific game reviewer. You can read his reviews on a number of different websites, but I usually read them on Board Game Geek.

One of the features which first drew me in to the Dice Tower podcast was their top ten lists. Every episode includes a top ten list from the hosts or from their guests. Of course, when it comes to taste, there are going to be many different preferences, but I always enjoy hearing the top ten lists from these guys. Typically, the top ten list presenters are people with vast gaming experience either in general, or in a specific genre of games.

They used to do reviews, but fortunately, those seem to be few and far between now. Listening to reviews in audio form was very boring for me. I'm glad this part of the show seems to be somewhat absent now. I'm much more interested in brief opinions than lengthy explanations of gameplay, which can be difficult to visualize.

The Dice Tower also runs contests, which typically have easy ways to enter. Winners usually win a new game.

They also have some great guest spots on the show, giving listeners the chance to hear interesting commentary from experts in the gaming world.

I highly recommend this show. It comes out every two weeks and can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store in standard or enhanced format (has pictures embedded).

The Spiel is a fun podcast by two eager game lovers - Stephen Conway and David Coleson. These guys run an enthusiastic show every two weeks, from their "padded cell in Indiana". They use an enhanced format loaded with pictures. The show is very well-crafted and organized, featuring the same segments each time.

They have a feature called "The List". This is a collection of games they own, but have not yet played. Their goal is to eventually get through them all. They will talk about these games each show, as they play them and mark them off the list.

Other interesting features include:
Game Sommelier: one of the hosts is given the challenge to find 5 games fitting a particular need
News and Notes: keeping us up to date on relevant gaming news
Backshelf Spotlight: giving lesser-known games some attention
Truckloads of Goober: a section about games with lots of components, or unique components
Name That Game: a contest with clues which the listeners must decipher to figure out what game the hosts have in mind

One thing you should know: these guys are not very critical. They love almost every game. It is rare to ever hear them dislike a game. If you want to know the good points about a game, David and Stephen are sure to find them.

This is a very fun show, and you will hear lots of information about lots of games. Don't miss it.

The third podcast I listen to regularly is the Sons of Kryos. This is a podcast targeting game masters (GMs), hosted by Jeff Lower, Judd Karlman, and Storn A. Cook. They tend to discuss mostly indie titles. These guys have tons of experience running a huge spectrum of games. They have loads of tips for GMs, as well as detailed thoughts and discussions about every facet of roleplaying, in terms of both playing and GMing.

They also post interviews from cons, and have the occasional guest. If you are a GM looking for pointers from the masters, download this podcast and give it a try.

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