Camping Out – Ryan reviews Camp Pinetop

In this show Ryan gives us his impressions of Camp Pinetop from designer Steven B. Davies and published by Talon Strike Studios. It’s a good review and the game sounds like a winner. It hits Kickstarter on September 24. Be sure to check it out.  


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Dice & Ink, Volume 1 – A Conversation With…Inkwell Games’ Odin Phong

This time Odin Phong is back to talk about his newest endeavor, Dice & Ink, volume 1. It’s an anthology book of roll and write games being published by his company, Inkwell Games. This cool book is loaded with 10 complete roll and writes ranging from solo games to co-op games. This is a pretty unique idea and Odin is super stoked about it. As you will hear in the show.



The book of games hit Kickstarter today. Go check it out right here.

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Tom & Ryan Review Chocolatiers, Parks, and LOTS.

It’s review time. First Ryan will give us the lowdown on Chocolatiers from Daily Magic Games. I’ll talk about the beautiful hiking game, Parks from Keymaster Games. Lastly, Ryan will tell us about LOTS, a new game from Royal N. Games. These are fun games and we will give you some details.  


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Leveling Up – A Conversation With…Dan Letzring of Letiman Games

I’m talking to Dan Letzring of Letiman Games about their latest game, Adventure Tactics. Here’s some info about the game.

Adventure Tactics: Domianne’s Tower is an encounter-based, campaign-driven, cooperative deck-builder. Begin your journey as one of 5 Basic Classes and battle your way through a branching campaign where you choose your own path in an attempt to overthrow the evil Queen Domianne. With each encounter, you will level up and unlock over 15 Elite Classes, adding new actions, equipment, and abilities. Will your team find the right combination of Classes and powers in time to stop Queen Domianne? Let the adventure begin! The game is funded and has unlocked 3 stretch goals as of this posting.



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Rice is Nice – A Review of Seasons of Rice

Seasons of Rice

Designer: Corry Damey

Artist: Jerome Damey & Corry Damey

Publisher: Button Shy Games

Player count: 2

Ages: 8+

Play time: 15 – 30 minutes

Components: 18 double sided cards depicting an ancestor on one side and rice paddy landscape on the other, rules sheet, wallet

Theme: Players are rice farmers trying to build the best rice paddies.

Goal: Place cards connecting paths to make enclosed rice paddies. Enclosed paddies score based on the number of ‘squares’, indicated by thin furrows lines, inside their paddies as well as the number of farmers, houses, and water buffalo enclosed. Additionally, players score either throughout the game or at the end based on their ancestor’s special scoring condition.

Game play: Players draw two random cards from the shuffled deck. They choose one as their ancestor and place the other, field side up, as the first card in their landscape. The remainder of the cards are dealt evenly to each player. Players draft landscape cards in two phases. In the Wet Phase they will exchange card hands and choose 2 cards each turn one to add to their landscape and one added to a central row, which will be used in the second phase. Placement builds enclosed paddies. Enclosed paddies score immediately based of counting the ‘squares’ formed by the thin furrows within enclosed paddies. In the Dry Phase, players take turns drafting a card from the central row. When all the cards are placed into a landscape, end game scoring takes place. Players also score varying and increasing points for each farmer, house, and water buffalo within their enclosed paddies. Water buffaloes not enclosed count as a negative point each. Players with end game scoring ancestor scores accordingly. The player with the highest score wins.

My Thoughts:

Well, I’ll break the suspense. I like Seasons of Rice a lot. It is a spacial puzzling game. As such it has high replayability. The 18 different ancestors add a lot of variety. I enjoy these. I get a very Sprawlopolis feel from Seasons of Rice. Except in a two player, competitive game. It’s a worth cousin. That is a high complement from me. The game is easy to learn and plays very quickly once you know how to play. The game has good table presence. The completed landscapes look great and give you a feeling of accomplishment. Seasons of Rice has some suspense in that you know what cards are available after the first hand off. But you don’t know which will be available to you each turn. What cards will your opponent choose? What cards should you keep for landscape building and which one should you put out to the center? The strategy of the game lies here. And remembering to play to your ancestor’s special scoring is key. I recommend Seasons of Rice.

You should like Seasons of Rice if:

  • you like Sprawlopolis
  • you like puzzly games
  • spacial games
  • are gameschooling about asian cultures on

Thank you to Button Shy Games for providing a review copy of the game.

The Most Anticipated Games of 2019, Part 2

  In this show Ryan and I take a look at games that are on the way in the second half of 2019. We talk upcoming Kickstarters, games hitting retail, and then we discuss the games we are most looking forward to seeing in the next few months. Continue reading “The Most Anticipated Games of 2019, Part 2”

Views From The Kids Table – Reviews of Haunt The House, Wreck Raiders, & Bugs on Rugs

Ryan and I have a great time talking about some games from one of our favorite publishers, Kids Table Board Games. Ryan revisits some of their early games then we jump in on the most recently released ones.

First is Haunt The House by Helaina and Josh Cappel.

Next Ryan covers Wreck Raiders.

Lastly Ryan talks about their latest, Bugs on Rugs.

The Kids Table Board Games website.


Ninja Camp Counselor – A Conversation With…Adam Daulton

I’m talking to game designer Adam Daulton this time. We discuss his published games, Ninja Camp from Action Phase and K’uh Nah from WizKids. We also talk about what he has in the queue.

Ninja Camp

K’uh Nah



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Fancy Flower Fad – A Review of Tussie Mussie

This time Ryan and I are taking a look at, Tussie Mussie – the newest game from our friends at Button Shy Games. Tussie Mussie is the next game from designer Elizabeth Hargrave. It’s really cool game about a flower fad from the Victorian age. The game is currently on Kickstarter for only $13 including shipping. Have a listen then buy the game. Tussie Mussie Kickstarter

Button Shy Games    


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Painting For Food – A Conversation With … Starving Artists designer Mike Wokasch (with special guest Owen Wokasch)

We have the pleasure of talking with Starving Artists designer Mike Wokasch this time. The second edition is currently on Kickstarter and we talk to Mike about where the game came from, how it developed, and what is different in the new edition. And we discover that Ryan had a big hand in the first edition of the game. Bonus! We talk to game designer Owen Wokasch who designed Button Shy’s Potion Class and just happens to be Mike’s son. And the youngest designer ever on Go Forth And Game. It’s a long show but a very fun one. I hope you enjoy it.

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Before The Con, part 2 – Playtesting With Daniel Solis

  In this second part of our Before The Con series, Daniel Solis, the designer of such hits as Junk Orbit, Kodama, and Athelion, talks about how he prepares and runs playtest sessions at conventions. There is a ton of valuable information for game designers here. And it’s a lot of fun.    

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Go Meeple Reviews – Sunny Day, Crystallo, and Chai + some chat about gateway games

This show Ryan and I review three games. First, Ryan talks about Sunny Day from Ludicorn by designer Malu Palau. Next I cover Crystallo by Liberty Kifer and published by Light Heart Games. Then we discuss what we think comprises a gateway game. Lastly Ryan raves about Chai from Steeped Games designed by Dan & Connie Kazmaier. It’s a cool show with some interesting talk about gateway games.

Crystallo Kickstarter


Sunny Day

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Before The Con with Seth Jaffee of Tasty Minstrel Games

Welcome to our Before The Con series. In this series, we thought we would discuss topics of interest to game designers headed to a game convention. We will talk about prepping for the con, pitching to publishers, what to expect during and after the pitch meeting, and things like sell sheets and prototypes.

First up is Seth Jaffee. Seth is the gamegineer over at Tasty Minstrel Games. He meets with designers and evaluates their games for potential publication. He’s talking to me about what a game publisher might expect from a designer, how he handles pitches, and what happens after the pitch.

We hope you find it fun and informative.

Tasty Minstrel Games


Five In Six Reviews –

In this episode, recorded in March, Ryan attempts to give us 5 reviews in 6 minutes or under for each game. The games he is talking about are: Layers Cat Rescue Sonic The Hedgehog: Crash Course Less Taigo Can he do it? Tune in to find out. You can find lots more interesting gaming content at The Inquisitive Meeple, our brother site.

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My Game Developer’s Work – A Conversation With…TC Petty III, part 1

This episode we are blessed to talk to the heavily credentialed TC Petty III. TC has a new gig as a game developer and he talks to us about what that is, what he does, and how it is different from game design. Continue reading “My Game Developer’s Work – A Conversation With…TC Petty III, part 1”

Space Princess, Dig It Up, 11:59, Brace For Impact – Reviews

Hey, listeners! Welcome. This time Ryan and I give you our thoughts on four games – Dig It Up, 11:59, Space Princess, and Brace For Impact. These are some pretty cool games and we hope you enjoy listening to what we think about them.

Dig It Up

Space Princess

Brace For Impact

11:59 Kickstarter  



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Whatever F.L.O.A.T.s Your Boat – A Conversation With…Daniel Grek of Concrete Canoe Games

We have Daniel Grek of Concrete Canoe Games with us in this episode. Daniel has some new games in the F.L.O.A.T. series so we talk about them. And some of his other games. Like Dirigible Disaster! We had a fun time and hope you will too.

F.L.O.A.T. Wave 1

Concrete Canoe Games

Wave 2 Kickstarter

Letiman Games Dirigible Disaster  

Letiman Games Dino Dude Ranch Hatchlings  


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Floating on the Lotus Pond – Reviews of the Concrete Canoe Games F.L.O.A.T series Wave 2 & Thrive

We have reviews of four games this time – three from Concrete Canoe Games F.L.O.A.T. series and Adam’s Apple Games Thrive. Continue reading “Floating on the Lotus Pond – Reviews of the Concrete Canoe Games F.L.O.A.T series Wave 2 & Thrive”

A Conversation With…John Mietling of Portal Dragon Games

John Mietling of Portal Dragons Games joins us to talk about their games – Palm Island, Pick The Lock, Zephyr: Winds of Change, and their newest, Planetoid.

We also talk about unique boards, unique game mechanisms, and unique families. This is a cool show and we know you will find it interesting.

You can find Portal Dragon Games here.

The Planetoid KS is here.



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Gartenbau and A Note For Murder – Reviews

In this show we give out thoughts about two games – Gartenbau by Fisher Heaton Games and A Note For Murder by Puzzling Pixel Games. We hope you enjoy the show.

You can find Gartenbau info here.

You can find A Note For Murder info here.  


intro and outro music for The Go Forth And Game Podcast is Myocardial Infarction by Peter Gresser. It is in public domain and we appreciate being able to use it.

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Mandoo Games Reviews – Fantasy Defense, Spring Rally, Venture Angels, & Papering Duel

In this episode Ryan and I review four game from Korean publisher, Mandoo Games.

The games are:

Fantasy Defense – a tower/castle defense game for 1-2 players

Spring Rally – a trick taking racing game for families

Venture Angels – a Bruno Faidutti auction game with a twist

Papering Duel – an abstract card laying, X-in-a-row game

We have a lot to say about these games and we think you will find it interesting.



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Palm Island & Ocean Crisis Reviews

Ryan and I talk about two games – Ocean Crisis from Shepard Kit Games and Palm Island from Portal Island. We like both of these games and give you the details about their game play. You’ll get our pros and cons and what we think about them.

Continue reading “Palm Island & Ocean Crisis Reviews”

The Roll & Write Revolution – A Conversation About Roll & Write Games with…Odin Phong and Benny Sperling

Our guests this time are Benny Sperling and Odin Phong. These guys are experts our topic this time – roll and write games. We talk about our thoughts on the current roll and write renaissance, some recommended roll and write games, and some things they are both working on in the area of roll and write games. It’s a fun show but be aware that there are some technical issues now and then. They don’t detract from the enjoyment of the show. It’s a fun, informative episode.  



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A Walk in the PARKS – A Conversation With…Jennifer Graham-Macht of Keymaster Games

In this episode we talk to Jennifer Graham-Macht of Keymaster Game about their newest game, PARKS. Continue reading “A Walk in the PARKS – A Conversation With…Jennifer Graham-Macht of Keymaster Games”

Burnt Bugs – A Conversation With…Helaina Cappel of Burnt Island Games & Kids Table Board Gaming

The fantastic Helaina Cappel joins Ryan and I to talk about her TWO game companies, Kids Table Board Gaming and Burnt Island Games. Continue reading “Burnt Bugs – A Conversation With…Helaina Cappel of Burnt Island Games & Kids Table Board Gaming”

On The Dot With Monster Sheep

In this show Ryan and I are reviewing three games. The first is Go Dotty from designer Neil Barrie. Then we talk about two games from publisher One Day West Games – Monster Highway and Sheep Boom Bah. Continue reading “On The Dot With Monster Sheep”

Cutting Edge Game Publishing – A Conversation With…Jason Tagmire & Jason Greeno of PNPArcade

Rebroadcast of our awesome interview with Jason Tagmire and Jason Greeno about PNP Arcade.

Continue reading “Cutting Edge Game Publishing – A Conversation With…Jason Tagmire & Jason Greeno of PNPArcade”

A Conversation With…Nat Levan, Part 2

This episode finished up my conversation with Nat as we continue discussion his designs.

As always you can leave comments at or @tomgurg or @inquiry_meeple.

Thanks for listening.

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A Conversation With…Nat Levan, part 1

In this long delayed episode I talk to game designer Nat Levan. You will know Nat from his games New Bedford, Rocky Road: Dice Cream, and Supertall. I hope you enjoy Part 1 and will return for Part 2 soon.

As always you can leave comments at or @tomgurg or @inquiry_meeple.

Thanks for listening.

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Our Conversation With…Galactic Raptor Games About Animal Kingdoms

Ryan and I chat with Carla Kopp and Dan Letzring of Galactic Raptor about their first game, Animal Kingdoms. Continue reading “Our Conversation With…Galactic Raptor Games About Animal Kingdoms”

Our Most Anticipated Games of 2019 (So Far)

In this show Ryan and I talk about some games coming out in 2019 that we are excited to play. These games are:

As always you can leave comments at or @tomgurg or @inquiry_meeple.

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Flying Solo – Impressions of Desolate, Knister, and Captive

It’s solo game time. In this episode Ryan and I are talking about some very good solo games. I have reviews for Van Ryder Games’ Captive and Desolate from Grey Gnome Games. Ryan gives us his thoughts on Knister, a neat roll and write.

Captive is one of VRG’s Graphic Novel Adventures books. These are fantastic solo games that A.J. Porfirio and I talked about in these games on the show – Part 1 and Part 2. You can pick up these games at the VRG website or your FLGS.

Desolate is a science fiction themed solo game from Jason Glover. We are hoping to have Jason on in 2019 to talk about it and his upcoming expansion of the game to multiple players. You can get Desolate at Grey Gnome Games, The Game Crafter, PNPArcade, or your FLGS.

Knister is a straight forward roll and write. It is harder to find than the other games but here are a few links – here and here.


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Top Family Games To Give As Gifts

This show is all about games to give as gifts. This time for families. Yes, it’s that time of year when we are pulling out our hair trying to find that just right gift for friends and family. Well fret now more. Ryan and I have 14 games that we think would be great to give to families as gifts. Here is a list of these games.

These are really fun, easy to teach and learn games that the whole family can play. We know you will find at least one in this list that your family will enjoy.



We wish the the Merriest Christmas and Happy Holidays from our families to yours.


If you enjoyed this show please let us know. We would like to hear from you.

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Go Forth And Game is proud to join forces with The Inquisitive Meeple. You will find all kinds of great gaming content like game reviews, guest posts, The Meeple Digest, and much much more. Just go here.

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Go Forth And Games’ $20 and Under Gift Guide 2018 – part 2

In this episode Ryan and I continue our discussion of great games you can purchase for around $20. These games would make fantastic gifts for family or friends. This is part two of the conversation. If you missed part 1 click this link.

Prices listed are either Amazon Prime or Target.

Children’s and Family Games

  1. All Queen’s Chess (around $11)
  2. Happy Salmon around $13
  3. Tiny Park $16
  4. Unicorn Glitterluck $17
  5. Rhino Hero $15
  6. Doodle Quest  Around $14
  7. Kingdomino (16ish Target for exclusive tower tile holder)
  8. Dr Eureka (around $17)
  9. Go Nuts for Donuts (around $16)
  10. Trash Pandas ($12)

Roll & Writes

  1. Qwixx (see note below)
  2. Rolling AMerican each $7 (but needs to be add on)
  3. Criss Cross around $13
  4. Harvest Dice (around $14 on amazon)
  5. Castle of Burgundy the dice game $13
  6. OctoDice ($20)


  1. ROLL FOR IT around $11
  2. Blend off (around $18)

Great Deals for very small games

  • Kuzushi (12 with free shipping must order from Gobico) – new version is currently on Kickstarter
  • Pack O Games (around $ at Barnes and Noble)
  • Circle the Wagons/Sprawl (and other Button SHy games ) at $12 on their website, plus shipping

This was a fun couple of podcast to record. We hope you have enjoyed them also. Stay tuned for our Top 7 Family Games podcast. Coming soon to Go Forth And Game.

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Go Forth And Games’ $20 And Under Gift Guide 2018 -Part 1

In this episode Ryan and I talk about a bunch of games you can purchase for $20 and less. With the holidays upon us, any of these games would make fantastic presents for friends, co-workers, and family. They are excellent stocking stuffers or party gifts. You’ll find a list of the games we discussed below.



OVER 40 Games here

Misc. Board Games

  1. Rocky Road A la mode $16
  2. NMBR 9 around $17
  3. Bubblee Pop around $13
  4. Great Heartland Hauling Co is $12 on amazon

Games to introduce to adults

  1. Ladder 29 ($18 on amazon)
  2. Diamonds ($18 on amazon)
  3. Medici the Card game (around $18)
  4. Arboretum Card game $20
  5. Flip City around $14
  6. Red7 Card game $13
  7. Codenames around $15
  8. Lost Cities ( $14 amazon)
  9. The Game $13 TARGET
  10. Wordsy $20 amazon
  11. Fox in the Forest (around 14)
  12. Oh My Goods ( $15)

Card Games for whole family

  1. For Sale (Travel Edition around $17)
  2. Game of Trains $12
  3. Sushi go around $11
  4. Sushi go party $19
  5. Best Treehouse Ever (18.90 amazon)
  6. Monster Crunch Breakfast Battle Game $20 at TARGET

We hope you enjoy the podcast and find this list helpful. Stay tuned for part 2.

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Sipping Tea – A Conversation With…Deep Aqua Games

Here’s Chai in action. Beautiful art and components.

In this episode I’m talking to Dan and Connie Kazmaier of Deep Aqua Games. We discuss the history of Deep Aqua Games then focus on their new game, Chai. Chai sounds like a neat game with some interesting game play. I hope you enjoy this show.

Playtesters having fun with Chai.

As always you can contact me via Twitter at @tomgurg or email – I’d love to hear from you.

The Most Dangerous Games – Building Horror Into Board Games with Chris Kirkman

A little on the late side since October has passed but I like the topic so in this episode of The Most Dangerous Games I talk to Chris Kirkman, dicehateme himself. I thought Chris would be a great person to discuss horror themes in gaming. We talk about what makes a game scary, how do to get tension in a game, and mention some games that fit into this category. It was fun and I hope you enjoy it.

The Most Dangerous Games – A Conversation With…KeyMaster Games about Campy Creatures

In this Most Dangerous Games episode I talk to Jennifer Graham-Macht of KeyMaster Games about their game, Campy Creatures. This is a ghoulish trick taking game of deception and bluffing about mad scientists and their creatures capturing citizens for nefarious purposes. The game is getting a second edition and an expansion so wanted to get the lowdown on these and about KeyMaster Games.


Here’s the link to the Kickstarter page.

As always thank you for listening!

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The Most Dangerous Games – Ghosts Love Candy

Ghost Love Candy by Danny Devine  Published by Steve Jackson Games

Key words: charming, fun, gorgeous, depth, deceiving

I learned about Ghosts Love Candy when I interviewed Danny Devine, the game’s designer, for his other design, Mob Town. Danny talked about the theme and premise of the game and it sounded interesting. But I didn’t realize it was so close to being completed. The Mob Town kickstarter had barely ended when I was sent me a review copy of Ghosts. And I am very glad they did so.

Let’s start with the theme. Ghosts love candy. They really do. It’s just that they can never eat it. Because they are ghost and there are rules you know. Except on Halloween night. Then they can possess trick-or-treating kids and satisfy their sugary desire. Ghosts Love Candy is a hand management game at its core. Players have a hand of ghosts numbered 1 to 9. Each player also has a secret goal / scoring card. This card lists the types of candy in the game and the point value of that candy for that player. The most liked candy will score the most points at the end of the game and the least liked the least. And various in between. And the order of the list varies among the cards so that candy corn may be a high scorer for one player and a low scorer for another.  Back to the ghosts. Players use these ghosts to bid on turn order each round. The player that played the highest numbered ghost gets to choose first onto which kid they will place that ghost. Players place ghosts on the kids to get the the candy that kid has. Turn order continues in descending order until all players have placed their ghosts and taken their candy. Then the next round starts. There’s a twist. Each kid has a special power. Player take these special powers when they place a ghost on a kid. These powers may allow you to take candy from another player. Or shift the kids around in the line. Or keep a kid from getting scared. Yep, these ghosts can scare the kids. How you ask? As I mentioned the ghosts have a number. The kids have a number also – a threshold number. If a player places a ghost on a kid and the sum of the ghosts on that kid equals or exceeds the kid’s threshold number, the kid is scared. Scared kids are put into the stash of the player whose ghost scared the kid and count as (-2) points at the end of the game. Because you shouldn’t scare the kids of course. At the start of each round, one piece of candy (candy cards)is drawn from the candy deck and  is added to each kid. Kids that didn’t get ghosts placed on them in previous rounds will accumulate candy until some lucky ghost gobbles it up. The game continues until there is no more candy to draw from the candy deck. That sums up the game play of Ghosts Love Candy. The player with the most points wins.

First, a look at the components of the game. Ghosts is basically a card game. There are 6 sets of Ghost cards. Each set has pictured a unique, named ghost and these are numbered 1 to 9. Each set is also a different color.  There are Scoring (Love) cards that list the candy available in the game in differing order for each card. So on one card Gummie Bears will score 5 points, Peppermint 4, Licorice 3, etc.. These cards express the Ghosts’ ‘tastes’ in candy. There are Candy cards depicting the various types of candy available in the game – one type per card. And the Kid cards, each with a unique action. I’ll mention the art at this point. It’s wonderful. Danny has really nailed the whimsy of the theme with the kids and the ghosts. Each kid and ghost is unique and clearly rendered in a charming cartoon style. Charming. That’s the word. The art is richly colorful, distinct, and unique to this game. I’ll talk about the art a bit more later. That’s it for the components.

I need to talk about Kid Powers a minute. Each Kid has a unique power that allows players to manipulate the rules somewhat. Some powers affect that Kid. Some affect surrounding Kids. Others affect the Ghosts or the Candy on or around them. It is the effective use of these powers that is the real meat of Ghosts Love Candy. Being able to combo them. Moving Kids or Ghosts around to mess with the other players. Swiping candy, keeping Kids from getting sick, moving your sick Kids to someone else’s stash are all potential options. This can be a really wicked game.


Who will like Ghosts Love Candy?

-casual gamers: the game’s theme and art will draw them in while the ease of play will hold them.

-filler lovers: Ghosts is quick and will take up to 6.

-some gamers: Ghosts isn’t a deep strategy game but has enough to satisfy gamers who a quick fix

Who will not like Ghosts Love Candy?

-wargamers: if you want wargames you will not find it here

-hardcore eurogamers: there is not enough strategy here to keep real hardcore gamers interest


What Do I Think?

By now you know that I like this game. It is fun. It is quick. It makes an excellent filler because it has some strategy and ‘take that’. The art is super. ‘Charming’ was how I first described it. My gamer game group liked it also. My kids liked the game a lot. But they wanted to see more Kids come out. So they created a variant to do that. Here it is.

The Gurganus Kids variant:

Set up the appropriate number of Kids as usual. Play the first round normally. At the beginning of the next and subsequent turns, the last Kid in the row goes home and takes his candy with him. All the other Kids shift down one and a new Kid is drawn and placed in the first spot.This variant introduces some cool decisions. It is possible for the Kid that is leaving to collect a lot of candy before he leaves. Do you let him get to the end, hoping to gobble up a lot of candy at once. Or do you clean him out before? If you want to use his power you better do it fast because he is leaving soon. This variant adds some neat decisions.

Anyway, I recommend this game. It’s a must for Halloween gaming.

Ghosts Love Candy is published by Steve Jackson Games. THANK YOU!





A Conversation With…AJ Porfirio of Van Ryder Games, Part Two

The conversations with AJ continues as we discuss Graphic Novel Adventures and their future, a bit more about the popularity of solo gaming, and what Van Ryder Games has coming in the future.

I’d love to hear from you! Leave comments below or on Twitter – @tomgurg. Or record some audio and send it to We will use it on a future show.

Thanks for listening.

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A Conversation With…Charlie Hoopes

This is an recent interview with Charlie Hoopes. It is a very interesting interview and Charlie has some unexpected things to say. He is candid and there are some cool ideas expressed that I hadn’t thought of. Enjoy.

Tom: Welcome Charlie. Tell us about your gaming self.

Charlie: Today, it is just my twitter handle. Originally, HoopCAT Games was the name for the publishing company my wife and I wanted to run. I started as that new and idealistic designer who thought he could be both designer and publisher.  We did manage to self-publish my very first title, a family game called Fill the Barn. While there were several excellent reviews, I quickly learned it takes so much more than a fun design and great reviews to succeed in a market overcrowded with strong games. While self-publishing your first game takes a lot of work, that one game can be your sole focus.  Self-publishing your second game (and beyond) becomes far more challenging. Your time is now split between designing new games while also handling the promotion,distribution, warehousing, sales, accounting etc. for the game(s) you’ve already released. I have seen a few self-publishers (e.g. Gil Hova) who can succeed at both – I admire their energy and ability.  I quickly realized my games would fare better if I stuck to the design and left the publishing to others far more experienced and skilled in the everything it takes to make a game successful both during and after publication.

Tom: I sensed that you had decided this but wasn’t sure. Recognizing your strengths and inexperiences and the mountains facing an endeavor is important. Being able to choose the right path in light of those is wisdom and discernment. Bravo! to you for that. Refocusing on what you love is awesome.

I’ve been following Firebreak for a while now. I’ve even played the PNP and it’s a good game. You’ve been very open with its development. And it seems you have good news on it. First, tell us about the game then the news.

Charlie: Firebreak is a cooperative wildfire control game for 1-5 players ages 10 and up that plays in under an hour. Every turn you and your team can do various things  to control or extinguish the flames such as dig firebreaks, fly a tanker plane, or pump water from a lake. But at the end of the turn, the wind direction may change, and then the flames spread with the wind to any space you have not protected. Make it two turns without any spreads and you win, but run out of blaze markers and you lose.


Despite an enthusiastic loyal Unpub following, it took some time to find a publisher. Until Origins this past June. Not only did I find a publisher, I found a publisher who shares the same enthusiasm as the Unpub playtesters!  While they’ve given me permission to disclose the publisher, I’d rather wait and let them announce when they think the time is best. So I will give a hint to any who are interested. This publisher has quickly been gaining a reputation for excellent art with a 1940’s-1960’s feel on every title in their growing product line.

Tom: What was the most difficult part about designing Firebreak?

Charlie: With competitive games, the other players provide the challenge. With a cooperative game, that challenge must come from the game itself.  I found the most difficult part was adjusting the balance to make sure it was never too easy, never too hard, just right every time.

Tom: You have signed Land of Oz and Sweet Success. Congrats!!!! Tell us about each and who picked them up.

Charlie: Sweet Success is a bakery-themed path building game that will be published by Mayday Games. Players are placing ingredients to build paths between different destinations, and you are allowed to pick up ingredients placed by other players to complete your paths. Completing a path can also block players from building paths through a location for the rest of the game, so paths become longer and more windy as the game goes on.  Sweet Success started as an abstract that some Unpubbers may have playtested under its original name of Attatat.


Tom: I really like that mechanism. I can’t wait to see it in action. How did you come up with it?

Charlie: The original idea was players would be building temporary bridges between islands, and as soon as somebody drove a truck over a bridge to make a delivery, that bridge would become unsafe and unusable.  I quickly dropped the theme because it just wasn’t quite working, yet loved the mechanic of building temporary paths that other players could use and destroy. So the “Bridge Out” game very quickly morphed into an abstract – which made things easier because I didn’t have to explain thematically why something happened.  So when Mayday told me they would sign the game but it would need a theme, I had to reverse the whole process. Finding a theme where players would build paths was easy. Finding a theme to explain why players would then destroy those paths and also make points inaccessible – that was far more challenging. Daniel Peterson (Mayday’s lead developer) and I brainstormed and tried a few different things before the final theme of collecting ingredients along bakery delivery routes.

Lands of Oz is a suit maximization card game that will be published by Escape Velocity Games.  The wicked witches are both gone, and now you are trying to attract as many of the heroes to your corner of Oz by playing the most of their suit – i.e. collecting the most hearts will bring Tinman to your land, while collecting the most diplomas will attract Scarecrow.  Lands of Oz is easily the most child-friendly game I have made. While playtesting under an earlier theme as Lady of the Diamonds at Unpub5, there were children as young as 5 at my table who nailed this game. Yet still enjoyable by adults looking for a light quick game.

Tom:  glad to see someone designing for children. I think they are worth designing for and I need to remember this. Thank you for reminding me.

What is your favorite game / mechanism and why?

Charlie: I like them all, and try hard not to use the same primary mechanic twice from design to design.  One that I have not (yet) put into a design is worker placement. Most of the worker placement games I have played tend to be heavier euros.  I would love to design a lighter casual game (an hour or less) that features worker placement.

Tom: I have the same goal. I’m hoping the newest one I have just started working on will satisfy that itch.

Charlie: If you succeed, I will buy it.

Tom: What mechanism can you just not get to work like you want it to?

Charlie: My biggest problem has never been getting a mechanism to work. The randomly changing wind direction at the core of Firebreak has been there with little change since the first public playtest. Likewise, despite several theme changes from the original abstract Attatat to its final Mayday version of Sweet Success, the primary mechanism of path building where you can score and remove paths placed by another player  has been unchanged throughout that game’s development.

Where I sometimes struggle is fitting the right game around mechanisms that playtesters love. For example, with my unsigned prototype Miner Rings (a 2016 Cardboard Edison finalist as Planet Movers), play testers have always loved the moveable destinations, shared dice rolls, and limited fuel. My journey with this design has been finding the right game to fit around those core mechanics. It started as an exploration race, then a challenge to complete the most lucrative delivery contracts. The version that was a hit at Unpub8 is now a much more flexible pick-up-and–deliver with an area control feel going on that reminds me of World’s Fair.

Playtesting Miner Rings

Tom: How do you recover from disappointment, be it a bad playtest or a rejection from a publisher?

Charlie: Public play testing. For me, watching others enjoy while playing one of my prototypes is the best cure to a disappointment.  That is what gives me the encouragement to keep pressing forward with a design.

Tom: That is a great and unexpected answer! Thank you for reminding all of us that this is a very good way to get the negative out of your head.

What advice from a fellow game designer or playtester has been the most valuable?

Charlie: I hate to give a weak answer on this one, because over the years I have received SO MUCH GREAT advice from designers and publishers both, that I’m not sure there is just one or two or three I can pick out.  Ask me the advisors I find myself going back to, and I will name Ian Zang, Luke Peterschmidt, Randy Hoyt, and Daniel Peterson at the top of my valued advisor lists. Yet there are so many more beyond those four. The board game design community is extremely friendly. Public playtesting and conventions are not just about all important feedback on your prototype.  It is about ever widening your network of advisors.

Tom: This is a super fantastic point. That network is invaluable for testing, reviewing rules, but I think most importantly for encouragement.  

Charlie: I also have to give a shout out to my friend Jeff, who has given me over 200 playtests of Firebreak over the years. His playtests were extremely valuable in helping me to get the balance just right in that co-op.

Tom: How do you deal with design block?

Charlie: If I get stuck on one design, I will set it aside and work on another.

Tom: Yep. That seems to be how most of us deal with it. How do you define ‘replayability’ relating to games?

Charlie: I enjoy games that are never exactly the same from game to game, where there is always a new or different wrinkle.  I like games that have different boards every game, or give players different starting positions or different starting resources every game. To me, replayability increases when there is a slightly different challenge every game that must be overcome in order to win.

Tom: What game do you wish you had designed?

Wow. Playtesting with Matt Leacock!

Charlie: I have no answer to this. Pandemic and Gravwell are towards the top of my favorite game designs. Yet when I think of those games, I wouldn’t have wanted to design them, the names Matt Leacock and Corey Young belong on those boxes.  By the way, did I mention that Matt made time at Unpub8 to play and give feedback on Firebreak, and Corey made time at an Origins years ago to play and give feedback on a very early version of Planet Movers/Miner Rings? I am not sure if that was name dropping, hero worship, or some of both. But now that I’ve given a long rambling answer that doesn’t directly answer the question, let me go back and talk around the question a little more.  My dream would not be to have been the designer of either Pandemic or Gravwell. Rather, my dream is that some day Firebreak or Miner Rings would be played on enough tables to be mentioned in the same sentence as Pandemic or Gravwell.


Tom: Nice! I look forward to the day when I have Firebreak right next to Pandemic and can’t decide which one I want to play more. What is the biggest, most impactful lesson you have learned through all this?

Charlie: Well there is the first and most obvious rule of game design – Don’t quit your day job. Assuming you still want to pay the mortgage, pay your offsprings’ tuition bills, and continue to feed your family.

Seriously, my biggest lesson is persist.  We are designing for a market that is overflowing with a ton of fun solid games. If your game belongs in that marketplace, persist until you find the publisher that says yes.  I had publishers turn down Sweet Success, Lands of Oz, and Firebreak before I found the right publisher for each. I still haven’t found the publisher willing to say yes to Miner Rings – and the only way that I won’t is if I stop trying.

Tom: Here’s a follow-up: Why do you thing the market is overflowing and do you think we are headed for a down-turn?

Charlie: That’s two questions, I hope you will take two answers.  First – why is the market overflowing? My opinion is the computer age has greatly contributed to the board game renaissance and the abundance of designers, designs, and publishers. Let’s go back even further then we need to – back  to Lizzie Maggie (the original designer of the Landlord’s Game that later became Monopoly). I don’t care what you think of Monopoly as a game. Stop and think how would you go about designing a game without a computer and layman-accessible graphic design software, without a printer, and no internet for you to research publishers and  email a pitch to a publisher you’ve never met in another city, state, or country? If I had born many years earlier, it wouldn’t have mattered how many great game ideas had popped into my head, because the barrier to entry would have been too high. Without the computer age, a non-artistic, non-crafty, person with poor penmanship like me would be challenged to simply make a playable prototype.

Will there be a down-turn? My opinion is “no”, and the reason why also goes to another way in which the computer and information age enable the board game renaissance. If you go back in history, there were several industrial age booms (railroads, automobiles) where a new technological breakthrough attracted  more new companies than the market could support. The most successful survived, while the losers were bought out or simply folded.. Yet I don’t think that will be the fate of designers or publishers in the current board game boom. Why? Because the information age makes the required effort so low that you and I can have day jobs that pay our bills, and still have enough time to design games on evenings and weekends.  

How many small publishers have day jobs that feed them and their families?  How many self-publishers and small publishers would have enough start up capital to publish a game without Kickstarter?  The point for both the publisher and designer side is that IF you rely on board games as your sole source of income, then you MUST achieve a certain level of business success. Else you are squeezed out and change careers to one where you can support yourself. But if you can have a regular job and can do the designing or publishing on the side, you can have a much lower level of business success yet afford to remain in the industry.

Sorry, that was a long answer.  Can I suggest a future interview for Go Forth and Game? Your question of “are we headed for a down turn?” Both members of Dr. Wictz (Aaron & Austin) have day jobs as professional economists. I think Paul Owen might be also.  I would love to hear their thoughts on the question of a future board game down-turn!

Tom: Those are excellent points. And I had not thought of any of those. You really make a solid ‘argument’ for the continued upward growth of the industry. Cool. The interview thing is a great idea. Thanks. Do you have a game design philosophy?

Playtesting Firebreak.

Charlie: Play test early, play test often.  Try to test every idea you have or changes that others suggest, because often the reality of how an idea plays out on the table can be quite different than the theory in your head of how you thought it would work .

Tom: How do you know when a game just isn’t going to work in its current state? When do you put it on the shelf?

Charlie: The point for me is if I find myself reverting back to old ideas I had already tested rather than coming up with new solutions to test. If I reach the point where I have no new solutions to test, I would rather take a break and work on another design and not waste thought and effort going in circles. The only design where I have ever had to set it on the shelf for a long time is my unsigned Planet Movers/Miner Rings design. When Richard Launius was the VIP at one of the Unpubs, he talked about putting designs on the shelf and coming back to them later. Until then, I was not familiar with the idea. I tried it with Planet Movers, and several months later, it worked (and thus the evolution to Miner Rings).

Tom: How do you maintain the excitement?

Charlie: Although I can be both patient and persistent, my excitement ultimately will fizzle out. What keeps me going is seeing playtesters enjoy one of my prototypes. When others enjoy a game I design, that is what keeps me going to make it as great as it can possibly be. And to persist until I find a publisher who agrees.

Tom: That goes back to playtest often. Something that I do not do enough. I find my enthusiasm for a game fizzles as I’m sure all of us designers do. I’ll either switch to a new design or take a break for a week. Ideas percolate and when I come back usually something has dislodged. I can see how playtesting would jumpstart that. I really need to do that on a more regular basis.

What’s in the queue and new?

Charlie: Very little.  I am still trying to find publishers for my space-themed Miner Rings and food-themed Chef’s Choice.  But very little that is new. I had started a tile layer called Doggerland where you can lay both horizontally or vertically (i.e. on top of other tiles). Doggerland was the land bridge that connected the British Islands to mainland Europe 10,000 years ago, as Earth was coming out of the last ice age. As the ice age glaciers melted, sea levels rose, and Doggerland now lies under the  North Sea. In my prototype, the sea is rising faster than the tiles are laid, so the playing area keeps shrinking smaller and smaller. I thought I’d be further along with Doggerland by this point, but it turns out instead my development time this summer has been going to making and testing some Firebreak modifications that the publisher wants. Not a bad problem to have.

Tom: Pitch Tag: Pitch a game about Space and food.

Charlie: That’s easy!  Here’s my two games. Miner Rings is a pick-up-and deliver space game that is the evolution of a Cardboard Edison finalist that features movable destinations,  circular motion, and shared dice rolls. Chef’s Choice is a non-party game that plays up to 8 in 30 minutes or less where you hand out food samples to increase customer demand for the dishes on your mealtime menu. No one player can single-handedly dominate the outcome, so this game is really about watching what samples your competitors hand out and matching your menu to what your competitors are doing.

Oh wait, you said game.  Singular not plural. Let me try again.  How’s this? Protoplanets is a game set in an early solar system where you are trying to eat up the most hydrogen, water, iron, and silicates from the gas/dust disk surrounding a newly-ignited star. Eat the most to build the largest planet and you win.  Now that I’ve pitched it, are you expecting me to make it?

Tom: This is a really great story of your journey. THANK YOU for taking time and thought on this. It means a lot to me.

Charlie: Thank you. My pleasure.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed this very informative and fun interview. I want to thank Charlie again for opening up about his game design work and the struggles and successes he has had.

I would love to hear from you. Please tweet me @tomgurg or @goforthandgame. Email at

A Proud Member of The Indie Game Report Network

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A Conversation With…AJ Porfirio of Van Ryder Games, Part One

In the fun episode of Go Forth And Game I talk to AJ Porfirio of Van Ryder Games. It’s been a good while since we spoke last to there is a lot to catch up on. Like Hostage Negotiator, The Big Score, and Detective:City of Angels. But the focus of the show is on VRG’s newest – Graphic Novel Adventures. These are Choose Your Own Adventure type solo games in a graphic novel format and they are fantastic! This is a good show. I know you will like it.



Comments are always welcome. Leave them at below or on Twitter – @tomgurg or

Or record an audio file and send it to the above email address. We’ll use it in a future show.

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Is One Play Enough For A Good Review?

Ok, I’m opening up a big ole can of worms with this one.

Is one play enough for a good review?

Should a reviewer play a game more than once to do a review? Is a one play review really just an impression or is it adequate for a good review? What about previews? Every Kickstarter has to have at least three or four to be taken seriously. So are they legit ‘reviews’ since the game and components could change in production?

Games like Candyland or most Haba games (and there are scads I don’t know I’m sure) probably don’t need more than one play before I have enough info to do a review. But most of the games the majority of us play are quite a bit more complex than these games. To me a single play of the types of games we play the most is just an impression. I get an idea of the game but I don’t fully understand it yet.

For most games, a single play just doesn’t give me enough of a feel for the game. I’m kind of slow. I need several plays to understand a game. I don’t do reviews often.  I need to play a game a couple of times to feel like I have a handle on it enough to be able to review it.  That one reason I don’t do a ton of reviews. It takes me some time to do what I feel is a proper job.  For the most part when I agree to do a review, I play a minimum of three times so that I am comfortable giving an honest review. And if I have some negative things to say, I will pass it by the designer/publisher first to let them know so they are not surprised. If I don’t like a game that I review, I will let the designer/publisher know this and most likely will not post it. That said I do give the full story, with the things that just weren’t for me and the things that I enjoyed.

Here’s a real good question that’s floating out there in the gaming community – what about paid reviews? Can they be trusted? I don’t know how I feel about this one. Part of me says “Sure, as long as it’s an honest review.”. And I would hope that they are. Part of me wonders at the pressure there must be to give a game a good review if you are getting paid.  I just don’t really know where I stand on this one.  I’d very much like to hear from some of you who do reviews for dollars. Tell us your ideas.

And what makes up a good review anyway? We will address that one on an upcoming podcast! So stay tuned.

There are a lot of different opinions on this one, folks. Tweet with #goforthandgame or @tomgurg. Record a 2 minute reply. Email me at  So let’s hear your voice! We will use it on a future podcast!!

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A Conversation With…Julio Nazario, Game Design Champion – Part 1

Julio E. Nazario

In this, part 1 of a two part interview, I’m talking with Iron Design Challenge winner AND just announced HABA contest winner Julio Nazario. Julio and I talk about how he got into gaming and game design. We also discuss the Asheville chapter of the Game Designers of North Carolina. Julio is a very humble guy and a brilliant game designer. As you will see. It is a fun show and I know you will enjoy it.


Filler Thriller and Wreck-a-Mecha

Tom and Ryan dive into the age of debate about filler games. What they are, what they aren’t, some excellent examples. Also Ryan reviews Wreck-a-Mecha by Black Table Games. It’s robot battling fun for everyone!

Some of our favorite fillers are No Thanks!, Coloretto, Bubblee Pop, For Sale, Best Treehouse Ever, Botswana, and Sushi Go.


My 20 Favorite Monster Movies

I’ve been listening to Monster Kid Radio a lot lately. My old friend, Micah S. Harris, pointed me to it last month and I can’t get enough. If you didn’t know, I’m a huge classic monsters fan. I can remember ordering monster movie books from Scholastic in school (who remembers that?). I remember watching what was probably Creature Feature on Friday night. First a chapter of Flash Gordon then a monster movie. It was great. Later the movies moved to Saturday afternoons. Give me the classics and B-movies! In college I met Micah and discovered a whole bunch more – Plan 9, all the Santo movies, Superargo, even more B’s. We would talk about monster movies all the time. The VCR was your friend if you were a monster kid.

So Monster Kid Radio is a podcast that focuses on these movies. I’ve been listening every day now for a month.

Recently MKR asked listeners to send in their 20 favorite monster movies made in or before 1967. The latest show goes over this list. I missed sending mine in so I thought I would post it here.

20.The Trollenburg Terror

19.War of the Gargantuas

18.House of Wax (original)

17.Robot Monster

16.The Last Man On Earth (Vincent Price version)

15.The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

14.King Kong

13.The Thing From Another World


11.Village of The Damned

10.The Monster of Piedras Blancas

9.The Wolf Man

8.The Mummy (Karloff version)

7.The 7th Voyage of Sinbad


5.Jason And The Argonauts

4.Dracula (Lugosi version)

3.The Mole People

2.Invasion of The Body Snatchers (original)

1.The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Image result for creature from the black lagoon

That’s my list. These are my favorite old monster movies. It was actually kind of hard to make this list. Mostly because I can’t remember all that I’ve seen. I’m sure I’ve left something off. There are no Hammer films here simply because I haven’t seen a lot of them or haven’t seen them as much or they were later than 1967. Kaiju are represented but several of my favorites are again outside the parameters. Most people will be pulling their hair out that I didn’t include the original Frankenstein in the top 20. It’s in the top 50 for sure but I like these better. It’s my top 20. What are yours? I’d love to hear from you. Send in your list or comment with them below. Try to convince me why Horror of Dracula or The Monster That Challenged The World should be on my list. @tomgurg, or leave a comment

P.S. So when I started writing this article, War of the Gargantuas has just begun on Comet TV. It has just gone off. Guess what is coming on – Jason And The Argonauts! It’s a good day.