Introductory Board Games on 630 CHED

Introductory Board Games on 630 CHED

Brian had the chance to chat with Courtney Theriault from Midday on 630 CHED about popular board games to give as gifts, play with your spouse or family, and beginner recommendations for getting into board gaming! Listen now: 


Courtney: We are deep into the throes of the Christmas gift buying season and board games are certainly going to be a popular item underneath the tree. But what if you don't want to buy the Squid Game edition of Monopoly or 38 different variation on Clue - you're looking for something unique or original and of course, most importantly, fun. Well, our next guest Brian Flowers, the owner of the Table Top Cafe might have the answer to your game conundrum. Thank you for coming in and bringing me all these gifts by the way. I get to take all these board games home, right?

Brian: Maybe one of them, I dunno about all of them.

Courtney: But yeah, so this is fascinating to me. Because I was introduced to the real world of gaming a few years ago. My first game was the into that realm was The Settlers of Catan. And that seems like child's play almost in retrospect to some of them. The evolution of board games has really seemed, to me anyway, to have really taken off in the last few years.

Brian: Yeah, absolutely. They're just much more inclusive and clean cut. They're well designed things that don't take four hours unless you want them to.

Courtney: There you go. Now you've brought in some of the greatest hits of 2023 or of recent years to kind of give the folks at home a sense as to what is popular. And I'm looking at big boxes, I'm looking at small boxes, I'm looking at a tub of what looks like little fuzzy balls. No shortage of variety here.

Brian: Yeah, the Fuzzies is the one you're looking at. It's like soft Jenga. You're using little cotton balls, you got to pull out with tweezers and just keep stacking them on top of each other. It works out great without wrecking your table.

Courtney: Okay, now are you allowed to you know, like a spit ball you allowed to like wet your fingers or..

Brian: No no, tweezers only.

Courtney: Okay, interesting. That's fascinating. Of course, the other games look a little bit more, I guess traditional, if you will. They look like I've got a couple of boxes here that look like they have actual boards in them. Some card boxes, what are these two board games?

Brian: I've got Cascadia and Dorf Romantik, which is quite a strange name, but they're hexagon based games. So you keep adding little tiles to your board. They both won, Dorf won this year for Game of the Year and Cascadia won last year. And you're building little chunks of land using tiles.

Courtney: Interesting. I know they don't just hand out the Pegasus Spiel to any little game.

Brian: No, no.

Courtney: And, of course, we're also looking at some of the card games here is what I'm assuming I'm looking at here in these smaller boxes. Talk to us a little bit about these ones right here.

Brian: Yeah, some of these have been out for a little while. But Bandido is you're all working together. So it's a cooperative game, which is kind of rare, where you're trying to trap a little bandit by playing cards to enclose his little maze. And Scout is the best card game I've seen. If anyone's played Wizard, you're playing cards from your hand, but you can't change the order of the cards in your hand. You have to strategically play the right ones at the right time.

Courtney: Interesting. You can't just shuffle them along the way.

Brian: No, you got to rummy them. So you want to get a long straight? You got to make sure you plan for it ahead of time.

Courtney: I was asking about the notion of a two player game because my wife and I, we love two player games. Some have been hits, some have been misses. And you've got one in front of me that you swear is a solid guaranteed winner if I were to bring it into the household.

Brian: Yeah, there's a couple of them called Next Station. This one's Next Station Tokyo. So you're making the subway lines of Tokyo using pencil crayons. So you're passing the crayons back and forth. And each time you get a certain color, that's the line you're working on.

Courtney: Okay, so we've got fuzzy balls, we've got pencil crayons, this is definitely a lot different than a Monopoly board. You know, I know folks are probably intrigued by some of these game premises that we've been mentioning here today, but perhaps might feel a little overwhelmed that, you know, is this game going to be something I can pick up easily? Or is this something that, you know, I'm going to take a look at a 40 page instruction manual and just, you know, be done within 30 seconds.

Brian: Yeah, most of the ones that are brought today are much more introductory. You can get some very complicated ones, but we're not going to talk about those today. We can show you how to play them at the cafe, so if you want to come check them out, we have them all open.

Courtney: And there you go. You've got hundreds of games there I would assume.

Brian: 780. Around there? 

Courtney: Give or take, give or take. So I mean, when folks are trying to get into this market, for the first time trying to break out from the board games that they might see on the shelves at Walmart, what's your recommendation in terms of how they should best approach finding the game that might be best for them?

Brian: I'm a little biased, I think everyone should come to a Board Game Cafe, maybe mine. We can teach and recommend games. So if you've only played Monopoly, we could show you something like Machi Koro, or Settlers of Catan, or other games that are based on things you're familiar with, but are much more new and fresh and exciting.

Courtney: There you go and so we've looked at, we've gone through all these games right here. We're talking about games of the year, we're talking about popular ones that you think are the best one ever. What's the hot game?

Brian: Right now it's the Exit Advent Calendars. So these are escape rooms in a box but every day, you get a little bit of a mystery. And they're like a big box, that we're shipping all over the place, and you get 24 days of little mysteries that are pretty introductory and at the end, you get a little surprise.

Courtney: Oh, who doesn't love an advent calendar, particularly in game form, and an escape room - it did encapsulates all the things I'm fond of. So how has the community grown? Is it getting bigger, you think here? Because I mean, I know that, like I said,  I've only gotten really into the gaming side of the equation here, like the really hardcore gaming, in the last few years myself. And it's fascinating to me how many more games are popping up on Kickstarter and things like that.

Brian: Yeah, they just keep coming. I think they're up to like 5- or 6000 new games a year or something excessive. So we've got to kind of filter through that.

Courtney: You'd gotta be more like the table, table top warehouse at that point. 

Brian: Yes, we would need a much bigger, bigger place, and no one wants to play every single game, you got to find the right ones for you. And there's lots more people playing them than ever before, and there's lots of places to play them, such as the cafe.

Courtney: And I think that's the thing too, is that, you know, at a time and place when the perhaps we're feeling a little bit isolated, following the pandemic, I mean, the notion of popping into a gaming cafe feels like it'd be a great sort of venue to rediscover that social skill also while having a little bit of fun.

Brian: Yeah, a lot of it is just also disconnecting like you aren't on your phone, you're not on an iPad, you're not on a computer, you are interacting with someone directly in front of you, yelling at them screaming at them if you want to, or just working together on a game as well.

Courtney: Yeah, no, I will say right now looking at the 900 pieces of electronics around me - the 37 screens - the idea of playing with the fuzzy balls in the Fuzzies, and the pencil crayons in Next Station Tokyo is very appealing. So I'll ask you directly, you know, obviously, you've made a pitch for all these games, they all sound like they've got something that's really appealing to them. But what's the real stand out for you? I know you mentioned Scout was the big winner for you. But what other ones would you recommend? Maybe in your top three for folks who might - I know, I'm asking you to three out of 780 games - Which ones would you suggest perhaps for someone who's maybe looking to buy a family game, let's go with that. If someone's gonna buy a family game for Christmas.

Brian: The most popular for the last several years has been, it's called Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. But I have here the Kitten version, which is flipping cards and slapping the table. So that's a pretty common theme for several games. There's lots of party games as well, like Hues & Cues you might have heard of, where you're just trying to get people to pick the right color. It's great family game. And Codenames. Codenames has been around for years, and is still my all time, all around best game ever. If there's ever a game that I think everyone should play at least once it's Codenames.

Courtney: Yeah, we introduced, me and my wife, we introduced Codenames to another couple on the weekend and it was fascinating to watch. They struggled a little bit off the hop to get it, but they were like, "No, I love this. We're doing it wrong. We're not getting any cards right, but this is just so much fun."

Brian: It makes some really cool arguments too of like one person thinks the head is part of the torso, and then you have to yell at them and explain why maybe that's not true. It makes for good moments in gaming.

Courtney: There you go. If folks do want to check out some of these games and perhaps, you know, test drive them before taking them home, how would they go about doing that?

Brian: You could come down to the cafe. We're right beside lumberjacks on 75th Street, just south of that giant new LRT station, or on our website and

Courtney: There you go conveniently located by an LRT station - can't ask for much more. Brian, thank you so much for coming in and kind of giving us some insight into the next level of board gaming and hopefully, if you're at home and you're thinking about some of these, definitely take a turn over to the Table Top Cafe to check some of them out. 

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