Blog Archives = Awesomeness

Today I right a wrong. The wrong is that I’ve never blogged about It is a traveshamockery that will be resolved today.

Why today? Because yesterday my buddy, Brett Myers, tweeted about some new awesomeness:

One of the questions I get asked frequently, and also ask of others, is, “What is your favorite beer style?” I often answer that anything Belgian is my favorite. I love Dubbels, Tripels, Saisons, etc. Then people ask what those are like. I usually mumble something about a floral character and distinct taste. But now I have a sweet resource to which I can refer people. Style Guide

Yesterday posted a news release marking the launch of their new Beer Style Guide. This allows people to search for beer styles based on SRM (color), IBU (bitterness), and ABV (alcohol by volume). Here is a glimpse at the style selector:


By adjusting the sliders you can hone in on the styles that fit what you’re looking for.

Clicking on any style brings you to a page with much more information about it. Click here for the Belgian Dubbel page. The information pages are great. They tell you the average ranges for SRM, IBU, and ABV. They show the type of glass in which to serve that style. It’s just pure awesomeness.

In the past when I wanted to learn about beer styles I would visit Beer Advocate. Their style guide is nice and was my go-to source for years. In fact, I will still reference it when I need information regarding American Adjunct Lagers.

So if you are a beer connoisseur or snob or just enjoy some Pumpkin Peach Ale over golden suds, then I recommend you check out the Beer Style guide and then everything else on

Have a great weekend and enjoy a brew or two!


Real Favorite Things

April Fool's Version of B&B

April Fool’s Version of B&B

Most of you understood that my “Hexes & Hops” article was an April Fool’s joke. Others mentioned that they actually preferred the green motif. If you missed out on the fun and want to see what it looked like, just click the image to the right.

I had fun writing that article and I hope you enjoyed reading it. Today I’m posting a true version of my favorite things. And I’m using all the same categories from the April Fool’s article.

Let’s get started with my favorite Barley things…

Barley Favorites:

BEER STYLE: Just about anything Belgian

I love Belgian beers, specifically Trappist beers. They have floral notes and beautiful body. And they are easy enough to understand with the names Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, etc. Of those varieties I would say Tripel is my favorite. But be careful because these tend to be on the strong side. Here’s a picture from Wikipedia showing some of the best Trappist beers and their glasses:

For the next Board Game Night???

Honorable Mention: Honey Anything, Scotch Ale, Hefeweizen


If I’m going out for a beer I’m gonna go someplace where they either brew beer or they serve local beer on tap. There are actually two new places being built near me that will be great Beer Establishments. I’m also blessed to have a brewery within 1 mile of my house, another big one 25 minutes away, and several more within the city. Madison, Wisconsin is a great beer town!

So I’m not going to bother going to one of those places with the bucket of Miller Lite. I’m going to a place that offers at least 10 different “good” beers on tap. I recommend this strategy.

BEER: Duvel or Orval

To go along with my favorite beer style, I would say my favorite beer would be either Orval, which is trappist, or Duvel. These are both awesome beers with amazing flavor. Of course Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, and La Trappe are great substitutes.

Honorable Mention: Leffe, New Glarus Cabin Fever Honey Bock (local), Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale (local)

BEER BREWING PHASE: Cracking open the first of a new batch!

I’d be fooling myself if drinking that first new beer wasn’t my favorite part. It’s way better than the boiling, racking, or bottling. Obviously we don’t brew beer so we can have fun brewing. That’s a side benefit. The real reason we brew beer is so that we savor and enjoy fine beer!

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Boards Favorites:

GAME MECHANIC: Worker Placement

I love worker placement games. Some of my favorites are Agricola (which I rarely play), Belfort, and Stone Age. I like the idea that each player has a “crew” to work with and the winner will be the player who best utilized their crew.

If you want to learn more about the Worker Placement mechanic check out iSlayTheDragon’s guide: Take This Job and Place It.


Games are all about fun. So if you are playing and conversing in a manner that is fun and you are fun to be around, then you fit in the category of “Fun People.”


I like it when people bring beverages, snacks, and games to a Board Game Night. It shows you are taking ownership of it. It shows you are there to have a good time. It shows you are part of the group rather than a clinger-on. I also like it when people take charge and read game rules ahead of time or come prepared to teach a game that they enjoy. Be part of it, people!

GAME ART: Merchants & Marauders

This game wins for the board and the player mats. I absolutely love the use of vivid and bright color. I’ll skip the explanations and just show you the art:

This doesn't even do it justice.

This doesn’t even do it justice.

When you’ve got ships out there on the board sailing around then you can really immerse yourself in the Pirate culture!

GAME: Scoville

Alright… call me out on loving my own game. That’s fine. But I wouldn’t have designed it if I didn’t at least like it. And it turns out that I really love Scoville. I’ve played or taught it over 125 times and I’m not sick of it. It is simple, elegant, easy to learn and play, but deep in the interaction and gameplay departments. When it gets produced I hope you’ll check it out.

GAME DESIGN TIPS (Rebuttal of the fake ones):

  1. DO NOT hire an artist for a prototype. Let the game persuade a publisher and then THEY will hire an artist.
  2. DO NOT quit your day job after one successful game. Board game design doesn’t pay the bills.
  3. You should playtest a game no less than 40 times. Preferably closer to 100. Fine tune that thing like it’s a 50s Corvette that still roars like a lion!
  4. Playtest your game enough to find any place where it might be broken and fix those places. Broken games suck and demonstrate that you probably haven’t put enough work into it.
  5. Don’t go hog wild over adding tons of components. Try to keep the component list as streamlined as possible. But if you need to components to make your game great, then go for it!
  6. Don’t sell out a Kickstarter campaign by adding minis. Just make a great game.
  7. Don’t force a long playtest on people. Play long enough to get valuable feedback.
  8. Don’t use spinners. There are almost always better, more fun ways to design random elements of gameplay.
  9. Paper money works, but I prefer chit coins.
  10. Don’t design a CCG. But if you do, make it great!

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There you go. April Fool’s is over and this article should fit much more closely with your Boards & Barley habits. Feel free to chime in with your favorites as well!

Monday Brews – 3-17-14

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Did you know that Saint Patrick is the patron saint of engineers? I am an engineer and at the engineering school I attended they always made a really big deal out of St. Patrick’s day. The school president would wander from classroom to classroom and cut the ties off of the professors. If your professor got his/her tie cut off, then class was over! It was a little strange, but the students always liked it.

Anyway, who is going to celebrate with a Guinness tonight? Well, if you do, enjoy one for me too! I’ll be at home working on getting Brooklyn Bridge ready for Protospiel-Milwaukee. More on that below.

Let’s recap the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week…

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: 4 Brothers Sibling Rivalry

At my local grocery store I noticed this new brand and chatted with the fine elderly gentlemen that runs the beer portion of the store. It is a Wisconsin beer company and they make “blended” beer. For example, the Sibling Rivalry is a blend of an Amber, a Red, and a Brown ale. But don’t worry, if you drink one it still only counts as consuming one beer! I thought it was actually quite tasty. My initial worry was that they must be bad at making good beer and so they figured they would blend it because then no one would know whether it was good or not. But at a recent game night someone mentioned that three bad beers can’t be blended to make a good beer. And I thought it was a good beer, so they must be good at making beer. If you see this or their other three styles at your local store, give it a shot!

  • NEW! Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter Winter Ale: I enjoyed this cocoa porter from a brewery that I had not previously heard of. They have a few others varieties I’d like to sample.
  • Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
  • New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
  • NEW! Tyranena Down ‘n’ Dirty: This was a very enjoyable chocolate oatmeal stout that was neither too heavy on chocolate nor oatmeal. I’d enjoy another one.

The Boards:

The ugly first prototype.


I finally got Playtest #1 out of the way. That’s always a huge barrier and it has been vanquished.

Brooklyn Bridge is a time-based worker placement/resource management game about building the Brooklyn Bridge. In the game you have a small crew of workers that will need to collect and use resources to build the bridge. The crew that contributes the most to completing the bridge will be the winner.

The design is currently set for 2-5 players. It took my friend Adam and I 2.5 hours for the first playtest. That is much longer than I anticipate a final version to take since we were discussing a ton of things and playing relatively slowly. The bottom line, though, from playtest #1 was that the game worked, nothing seemed broken, it included some very interesting choices, and it seemed fun. So I am VERY pleased with how it went.

  • Dungeon Roll x3
  • Forbidden Island x3: This is not a new game to me, but it was new to my kids (ages 4 and 2). I thought I would see if they liked it and they totally did. They kept asking me to play “the island game” with them. The strange part is that we won all three games that we played. That almost never happens! I’m just glad they enjoyed it and I hope it serves as a gateway to get them playing some more awesome games.
  • NEW! Curling: Jeremy, the maker of the crokinole board and guest post writer from last week also made a curling board. You can check out a picture of it in my tweet here. It was a ton of fun to play even though it took a while to figure out how hard to slide the discs. It will be even more fun when we get good at it.
  • Crokinole
  • Robo Rally (8 players)
  • Kingdom Builder (8 players)
  • NEW! Tessen: While I had previously played a demo copy, taught by the designers Chris and Suzanne Zinsli, this was my first play of my final production copy. This game is really enjoyable, fast-paced, and fun. I beat my sister in three straight games.
  • Tip the Cows: If you have ever played Pass the Pigs, then you know how to play Tip the Cows. It’s basically the same game but with cows instead of pigs. It’s a fun little press your luck game where you get to roll cute animals.

Designer’s Corner:

So Brooklyn Bridge Playtest #1 went well… what’s next? I have already redesigned and made a second prototype board based on the results from the first playtest. Normally I don’t like to change things until it has been played a bunch, but due to the weight of this game and the obviousness of some of the necessary changes I don’t see any reason why I should postpone integrating the changes.

I am very excited about this game and I’m hoping to test it two more times this week so I can tune it a bit before Protospiel-Milwaukee. I think it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to get it in front of more players!

Horizontal RuleSo those are the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy? Did you play anything for the first time? Any new brews?

Monday Brews: 3-3-14

It’s awesome that March is here! It’s not awesome that it was -7 degrees this morning. Anyone else ready for warmer weather?

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to recap the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed last week. Let’s start with the Barley

The Barley:

BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

The Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery is my favorite vanilla beer. It has a great smooth and subtle vanilla flavor that adds a great layer of sweetness to the porter. I like to drink it as a slightly warmer temperature to help bring out even more vanilla. This is a highly enjoyable brew that I plan to enjoy again sometime before Winter is over.



My friend Jeremy, the same one mentioned above, made his own Crokinole board. (I am hoping to have him write a guest post about his process). He finished up his “test board” the other night and so we played it a bunch during our board game night. It’s just a lot of fun to play, especially when you can make a board rather than paying over $100 for one!

  • NEW! Il Vecchio: My friend Adam got this one to the table. It felt and looked and played very Euro-y, which is good for our group. Most of the time I didn’t have a good idea of why I was doing anything. I think the other guys felt that way early on as well. I snagged a 10 and 8 point location in one of the provinces and that helped propel me to victory in a tight game. We were all separated by 10 points total. It was one of those games where I wanted to play again right away so that I could do things a lot better.

Designer’s Corner:

I have been working on Brooklyn Bridge for some time now and it is like a big puzzle. There are some gameplay elements that are currently not fitting together. So I am toying with a few ideas to get them to work while not sacrificing fun or theme. I am still hoping to have this ready for Protospiel-Milwaukee later this month.

My current objective with the design is to put together a prototype and start solo playtesting it. That should help me find out how the gameplay elements will really fit together. I think I can put together a board and an objectives deck tonight. I may have to have an impromptu game night at some point this week to get my Level 1 playtesters to try it out.

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So those are the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week. What beer and board games did you enjoy?

Monday Brews: 10-7-13

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you’re all doing well. Last week was a good one for me. My son turned 2, our group had a game night, and the weather is getting nice an Autumn-y! The downside was that I only played three games.

Since it’s Monday, it’s time to blog about the beer I drank and the games I played in the past week. So here’s the Boards and Barley I enjoyed last week:

The Barley:

2 year old boys love it! (The box art, that is!)

Sand Creek Oscar’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: My son chose this beer at the beer store. We walked up to the beer section and he started going bonkers over it since it had a big bear on the cardboard. So it was an easy choice. Pleasantly enough it was a decent beer that I would drink again.

Southern Tier Warlock: This is an imperial pumpkin stout and it was a doozy! It was almost like drinking a pumpkin beer shake. The smell was a little interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. I don’t think I’d drink it again, but I was glad to have had a taste.

O’so O-Toberfest: Another Oktoberfest under the belt. I think that’s the 5th or 6th Oktoberfest style I’ve had this season!

Homebrew Black Ale: I was able to enjoy a friend’s homebrewed black ale while playing a game this past week. It was delicious!

New Glarus Spotted Cow: A staple in my beer diet, this is an always enjoyable beer!

New Belgium Giddy Up: A lemon-peel espresso infused ale from New Belgium is an interesting experience. It was a little too out there for me to enjoy, but, like the Southern Tier Warlock, I’m glad I was able to try it.

Milwaukee Brewing Polish Moon: MKE brewing out of Milwaukee is a fun newish brewery located in an area of Milwaukee that is undergoing a revival! This particular beer, a Milk Stout, was enjoyable, but not my favorite milk stout that I’ve had. It is a little too earthy tasting, or at least has too earthy of an aftertaste. But MKE Brewing is doing good things!

The Boards:

Rhome: This is an awesome “rhombus” based game from esteemed designer Brett Myers (@BrettSpiel). It is a really great game that I believe will have a great published career at some point. The tile placement mechanic is awesome and tight. There is a lot of anxiety and tension in the game, which is fantastic. And like Hedeby and Baron Age that I mentioned last week, this is a game that I will be owning!

It’s Hoof Hearted making a tight first turn!

Long Shot: A horse racing game? Blegh! Oh wait… what’s this?? It’s fun? Okay. When you’ve got Pony Danza heading off Harry Trotter and the Horserer’s Stone along the final stretch, then this game can be a lot of fun. Okay… Pony Danza and Harry Trotter are made up names from my gaming group. But they make the game more fun! While there is a lot of luck in the game, it can be a ton of fun with a big group. It plays up to 8 people, which makes it a nice alternative to 7 Wonders of Robo Rally. Check it out!

Attika: My friend Jeremy got this game in the Math Trade at GenCon and we finally got it to the table. I really enjoyed it! There is a cool mechanic in it that allows players the opportunity to make some big moves. If you can chain the right buildings together you can really get ahead. I’ll definitely play this game again! And I’m not just saying that since I won.

So those are the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week. What do you enjoy?
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