Scott Nicholson is a board game connoisseur and enthusiast, who – in addition to collecting both rare and popular board games – wants to help others decide which games are right for them. As a result, he started his biweekly video blog, Board Games with Scott. During breaks from his tenure at Syracuse University as an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies, he reviews the titles he receives from Funagain Games, and other publishers, and he also buys on his own, making a point to note that the episodes are geared toward those who have never played the game, as current players will not gain much in the way of new information.
Because games are an interactive experience, the format is like that of a cooking show – as opposed to a movie review – and includes the following: Nicholson introduces the game (or two in some cases); discusses the manufacturer, history, and packaging and production values; presents the Game Bits – the pieces that come in the package; describes the method of play; demonstrates a round or two; and then gives his conclusion in the form of a letter grade for the game. He is always honest; however, since this is a hobby, he has made the decision to only review games that he already likes, so as to avoid negative reviews. The games cover a wide range of difficulty – from the simple, potty-humored Why Did the Chicken… to the more intricate and involved Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. Occasionally, Nicholson meets with the game designer, such as Tahuantinsuyu’s Alan Ernstein, to get a look behind the scenes of game development. Episodes last between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the game, and archived episodes are divided into categories – Strategy/Eurogames, Party, Heavy, Two-player, Family, or general Non-specific. Viewers can comment on episodes in the BoardGameGeek forum. Also, links to purchase games are found below each posting. For each game that a viewer purchases through Nicholson’s link to Funagain Games, Nicholson gains credits toward purchasing new games to review. It’s a win-win situation for all.
Although the demonstrations are geared toward prospective players, I did learn an interesting variant to my favorite game, Apples to Apples. he also compared it to a similar, but more intricate German game called Attribute, which recently became available in the US. Nicholson also sold me on GiftTRAP, which comes in a cubic box, and like Apples to Apples, tests your knowledge of your friends’ likes and dislikes.