People into board gaming have likely heard about “The Dice Tower”. For those the unfamiliar, this is a website that produces content about board gaming through various media: videos on youtube and audio through podcasts. Headed by Tom Vasel, with his team Zee Garcia, Sam Healey and Eric Summerer.
Here’s my top 10 things I love about The Dice Tower.
10. The Dice Tower Podcasts
In Manila, traffic is horrendous. Moving a few kilometers in the city can take an hour! But with The Dice Tower Podcasts in the background, it seems quicker, and a whole lot more fun. I queue as many shows as I can and, as of this post, there are 470+ episodes up on their podcast.
They talk about things like thanking the people who got them into board gaming, Top 10 Ancient Theme Games among others. The sound is professional, segments are substantial and lively, each episode running for an hour or so.
Out of the 28 running podcasts another one I listen to often is The Dice Steeple. Hosted by Sam Healey and Dan King the GameBoyGeek. Here they talk about board gaming in the Christian perspective. This appeals to me, because it relates with the projects I am working on.
9. Board Game Reviews
Every week the Tom Vasel and his plethora of contributors churn out around 10 to 15 reviews. This does not include the themed shows or lists. The clips run from 5 to 15 minutes each, with the format: talking about rules, how to play and their opinion about whether or not you should play plus possibly the target audience.
Some board games have the Dice Tower Seal printed on their box. Those refer to Tom’s review rating, “Seal of Approval”, “Seal of Excellence” which may have a follow-up statement “Into My Collection!”. Tom’s personal collection runs about 350 games but his basement probably has more than double of that in review copies of games.
8. Dice Tower Contributors
The network has tons of contributors. They add spice to the various shows. To name a few: ArtsyRobot Jessi B. and her board game themed recipes; Ryan Metzler with his love of Euro Games; Chaz Marler for his meta-metagaming; Suzanne Sheldon for all the lovely app recommendations, I end up buying; André Nordstrand for his in-depth sit-down reviews; Dave Adams with his haiku segments; Ian James the next big board game celebrity and sooo many more!
I really miss the segments of Scott Nicholson about the concepts of fun, when he used to contribute in the Dice Tower. My early beginning in design was from him. He is a game design professor and the director of the Brantford Game Network Game Lab.
7. Eric Summerer
The literal voice of the Dice Tower. He is the Co-host of the Dice Tower Podcast and produces many of the shows in the network. He does the signature 172-second board game review. He is the professional voice over of many game apps, audio books and shows. The family man often talks about his kids, bringing up anecdotes about their adventures together.
6. Sam Healey
Sam is fierce but kind-hearted. He has an affinity to historical themed games that are not necessarily war oriented. He and Tom with their family used to live in Korea as missionary ESL teachers. This was where they strengthened their love for board gaming and helping people in the hobby. Sam and Zee joined the Dice Tower core team not so long ago and has produced great content since.
5. Zee Garcia
Zee loves quirky and obscure games. I may not always like his preference in games, but I definitely follow for the hidden gems he finds. Games like Bassari and Safranito come to mind. He brings vibrance to the Top Tens videos, especially when he and Sam pick on eacher other, derailing momementarily for unexpected yet theatrical comedic clips.
4. Tom Vasel
The head of the Dice tower and a major influencer. If Will Wheaton’s show “Tabletop” got people into board gaming, Tom’s Dice Tower network will keep them in it. His reviews don’t always agree with people, but most of his content (he churns out an incredible amount), hits the spot for most. His nearly decade-long dedication to the hobby has made The Dice Tower the industry’s benchmark for commitment, quality, and relevance.
3. Board Game Blender & Throat Punch Lunch
These are bi-monthly shows, covering different segments in the board gaming hobby.
Board Game Blender hosted by Zee Garcia, would have topics like Pick Up and Deliver games, Wheeling and Dealing games, etc. Throat Punch Lunch headed by Sam Healey talks about Thematic Games, Miniature Painting, and the like. Unlike the review formats, the contributors in these segments offer up their best games to talk about in relation to the show’s topic. This creates another perspective to the hobby to explore and enjoy.
2. Board Game Breakfast
If you can only watch one show, watch this one.
In Weekly TV show of board gaming. Tom Vasel and his contributors come up with delightful segments on new games, industry events, conventions, playgroups and many more. Every episode is relevant and interesting. You will get a balanced diet of news, new games, old games, infomercials, and even commentaries! I’ve never missed an episode, except that one when 101 was posted before 100.
Turns out episode 100 was from the future past.
1. Top 10 Lists
The Dice Tower did not invent Top 10s, but I am sure glad they stuck with it. Something about Top 10s is just enjoyable. Even Tom’s “Top 100 Games of All Time” is a series of top 10s. These become timeless pieces of content only to be replaced if they’re forgotten, or they intend to update having done that list in the far past. They’re like the Simpsons of Top 10s. From “Top 10 Stocking Stuffers” to “Top 10 Games That Make Them Angry” to “Top 10 Games They are Good At” – each has a unique flavor that refreshes the format for undeniable replay-ability.
The Dice Tower may have come a long way from its humble past but thankfully, their heart has stayed the same. The passion for board gaming, the people that play them, and the concern for the community, has kept their light shining brighter than ever.
One wonders what new developments they’ll come up with, to keep the beacon loud and strong.
Until next time, this is Ron Villaver, reminding you to make your gaming count!