TSM Episode 358: The Sword in the Stone

What? King Pellinore said what, what? What?
King Pellinore, in a moment of lucidity.

Download: Released 2016.01.11

A sword, an anvil, and a stone feature prominently, as do board games, Cricket, virtual reality, and Star Trek, when SiliconNooB and Caspius put their feet up on the velvet ottoman of industry, and set about discussing the first developments of 2016.


  1. Great episode guys! Thanks for the detailed reply. Info Blast this week will discuss some reasons that people who might not have considered playing board games might want to give it a shot.

  2. Info Blast this week will discuss some reasons that people who might not have considered playing board games might want to give it a shot.

  3. I’m probably just dumb but I can’t get into Once and Future King like you guys.

  4. Please continue with the wonderful readings of the works of T.H. White. Thank you for the wonderful introduction to this great series. (I’m literally purchasing the Queen of Air and Darkness as we speak!)

  5. @That Man: I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed it. White is a delightful writer–a sort of P. G. Wodehouse of medieval fantasy. And, I genuinely do think that The Once and Future King gets better as it goes along.

  6. Info Blast Experiences a Golden Age

    This week’s panel
    Silicon Noob

    Dice Admiral Reply Section
    Thanks for taking the time to reply. You can see my point-by-point reply at the bottom. It’s a shame that no one on staff appears to be interested in modern board games, as there’s a wealth of great things happening in the industry right now. We’re in a golden age of board games and there’s always something cool.

    Actress Sian Blake dead

    Double the Numbers <
    *NOTE: linked image is misleading: bars represent % of market total and is divided into console and handheld segments without noting such. This is a case study in bad graph design (or good design for intentionally misleading graphs).

    A Boy and His Blob

    Sega games coming to Steam

    Occulus Rift $599.99 US Dollars

    None of this week’s news stories inspired commentary from me, sorry.

    Imitanis Literature Corner
    The Once and Future King by T.H. White
    -END OF PART 1-

    I think I would prefer that you start a new book. I’ll freely admit that this is because I’m so far behind on the current reading that I’d like to have a fresh start on a new book. So take that for what you will.

    Imitanis Entertainment Moment
    *See Note below regarding the status of my gaming group*

    This week I played Pandemic as a rules refresher for Pandemic Legacy.

    If I haven’t covered it here before: Pandemic is a cooperative game (players working against game) where the players take the role of doctors working for a global CDC organization. There are 4 different viruses infecting the world and it is the job of the players to develop cures for them before they become unstoppable. Players will take their turn moving around the board and doing things like treating disease to reduce the number of infected and attempt to reduce outbreaks, trading information about diseases with fellow players, founding research centers, or using their information to develop a cure.

    Pandemic is the classic example of cooperative board games for better or worse. Pandemic is very much a puzzle to be solved as there is a great deal of open information. If you have a balanced group, then it’s great fun to try and come up with a good solution together. However, if you have someone at your table who has a good mind for puzzles or just likes to be bossy then you can end up with an unfun experience where one player just dictates the entire turns of the others.

    Here’s a guide about that kind of thing that I *mostly* agree with: Tips for dealing with problem players

    I’ve not yet played the legacy version, but I’m looking forward to it very much.

    I’d love to take this time to write a bit about what I feel makes good and bad cooperative games, but since I went to near essay length last week I’ll try and keep it a bit more concise this time.

    My D&D has also been my board gaming group for most of the sessions that I’ve recapped. It seems like I might not have much to write about on either front for a while as some personal differences appear to have caused an end to my friendship with the hosts. It’s a group of 4, so losing half of the group will make a pretty big difference in the number and variety of games that I’ll be playing. It will also likely mean that if I pick D&D up again, it will be with a different group/setting/characters. If I start a new group in the near future I will take Lusi’s advice and encourage the players to pick more common names, or just allow them to pick whatever they want.

    DiceAdmiral Travel Moment
    Just a few evening jaunts to visit nearby family. Why did I start this segment? I must have been traveling a lot at the time.

    Final Notes
    I like the opening fanfare. What is it?

    Of course most of my points don’t work outside of their context, but you can apply many of the general concepts to other media. I’ll save more in depth discussion on this for a later time though.

    I never called them rules, but I agree that the bold Don’ts were probably a bit of an overstatement.

    Board game groups can play whatever games you agree on. If you want to play one game several times, then there are groups for you. We don’t play something new every single week, I just don’t often comment on repeat plays because I don’t think it makes for interesting content. My group played Mice & Mystics a few times a month, but I don’t think I ever commented on it more than once or twice because it would have been tedious to read about.

    Chess is absolutely a board game. It’s an abstract strategy game. There is a whole genre of these kind of games that involve no (no very little) luck and entirely deterministic play. These games don’t rely on generated randomness to maintain interest and that’s perfectly fine for that kind of game.

    I think my main gripe is when games advertise themselves to be one thing and end up being something entirely different.

    Board Games Discussion / Dice Admiral’s Board Game Corner
    Board games aren’t for everyone, but here are some reasons that I like them that you may not have considered if you haven’t played in the modern era.

    -Board Games are the new Local Multiplayer: When I was in school my friends would gather and we would sit around a tv and play Smash Bros and shit talk for hours. As local multi gets less and less common in video games, you can take your friends to your kitchen table and have a great time shit talking over a game of Resistance.

    -Low barrier of entry: I’ve found that it’s easier to convince someone to sit at a table and play a board game then it is to pick up a controller that they’ve never used before. Lusi said that he’d got a few friends or family members to try Cricket recently and they’d had a really great time. It’s very much like that for board games!* Over the holidays I got my parents and relatives to play several board games with me, and we all had a great time!** They never would have picked up a video game controller, no matter how attractive the game might be to their demographic. Most people intuitively understand decks of cards, and dice, and you don’t need any more than that to have a really great time. Sometimes technology is a barrier to having fun playing games together.

    *Note: You still can’t bring out a massive or complicated board game to get new people to play. You’re usually best off keeping it pretty simple for beginners by choosing games with low rule and component counts.

    **We played Paperback. A game about writing cheesy novels by creating words from letters on cards in your hand. Every turn it’s like getting a new scrabble hand where you want to get the best possible word. It’s a 5 minute explanation and you’re off to the word-races.

    -In-person reactions are the best: When you play games face-to-face you get to see the look on your opponents’ faces when you or stab them in the back or fail at something hilariously. There’s nothing like laughing together or unleashing your foulest death glare across a table. Even local multiplayer video games don’t quite emulate exactly because the game sometimes acts as a barrier between the players.

    -Instant Modifiability: If a video game sucks your options are to find a way to mod it, just give up on playing it, or try to find some other fun within the framwork of the game. In a board game the only rule enforcement is the social contract between the players, who can decide to change it whenever they want. The pieces in the box are only the tools that the designer provided to help you create the game, you can change it however you want. Character massively over/under powered? Change it. Game too long/short? Play a different number of rounds or alter the win condition. Have an idea for an expansion? Grab some index cards or paper and some pens and make it. It’s great!

    -Board games are very much experiencing a golden age right now. Here’s a video covering that in more detail than I can in my limited space: Golden Age of Board Games

    -There’s something for everyone: If you want to spend 5 minutes rolling a few dice, there are games for you. If you want to spend 12 hours plotting intricate betrayals and courying political favors, there are games for you. If you want to play a game about winning the affections of Mr. Darcy, there’s a game for you. If you want to build customized star-cruisers with quantum torpedoes and heavy laser canons then there’s a game for you. Etc, the variety is awesome. (Though there are too many zombie and Lovecraft games IMO.)

    *If anyone is interested in me writing more in-depth about games here on a regular basis please speak up in the comments here. I enjoy it, but won’t make it a regular thing unless there’s some interest.

    Final Quotes
    “I’ll be in bed, trying to get off” – Caspius

    Cumulative total record holder: Imitanis
    Single Donation record holder: Imitanis

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  7. Please do continue on, you are quite good at readings, and it gives people reasons to listen to each podcast and not miss a one.

  8. @RabidKitten: It gives SOME people a reason to not miss one! AHEM AHEM A MAD RICE LID AHEM

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