Losing at Board Games: What’s in Your Rucksack?

Losing at Board Games Discusses Fantastiqa

One of my favorite movies is Up in the Air.  Ryan Bingham, the character played by George Clooney, has a motivational speech entitled “What’s in your backpack?”

On a related note I wanted to mention that I say “travel light” so frequently that the Political Mastermind will refer to the phrase as “Travel Light ™” . I have noticed that when she adds a “TM” after the phrase she is indicating that I say it far too frequently, but this only encourages me.  I’m quite happy to have phrases followed by “TM” attributed to me.


Traveling light enables me to go crashing through the underbrush like a gazelle.

So what does this have to do with Fantastiqa?

I’m not going to take the time to review the gameplay of Fantastiqa, as Ben Gerber has already written an extremely thorough review here:


In fact, I will add that it is that very review that prompted my initial interest in the game.

 Fantastiqa is asking the question: What’s in your rucksack?


Here’s the short answer: A net, a helmet, a bat, a toothbrush, a spatula, a candle, a pail, a broom, and a cat.

As you start your adventure, you are stepping out into the world with a rucksack full of items you could find around your house.  As your quest continues, you start to fill that rucksack with fantastic creatures and artifacts.  Alf Seegert, the designer of Fantastiqa, is asking an interesting question:

Adventure is calling, what are the items you will toss willy-nilly into your rucksack?

These items seem to fit into a few broad categories:

1) Preparedness

Included here would be the net, helmet, and toothbrush.  The net is logical, as I might fasten it between two trees and use it like a hammock for sleeping.  The helmet would protect my head from unexpected collisions with low-hanging branches.  The toothbrush just seems like good sense; if I meet anyone on my journey they might be immediately inclined not to join me if I have rancid breath.  In addition, if there aren’t an army of dentists in my path, the toothbrush is preventive maintenance against any cavities or other oral calamities in the event that the adventure takes awhile.

2) Clean-up

Included here is the broom and the pail.  These make a bit less sense when looked at on their own.  If I wasn’t bringing a helmet, I might toss the pail on my head to protect me from airborne wiles.  The broom implies that if I end up in the forest (where I’m likely heading) I just might do a bit of sweeping up.  Since this seems highly unlikely, I’m going to move the broom down to the next category.


3) Make-shift weapons

Included here is the bat and the broom.  A bat makes perfect sense.  If I hear a noise in the middle of the night, I would grab a bat and go inspect the house.  Since I anticipate hearing noises during my adventure, I might address them with my bat as well.  In addition, if I meet a troll on my adventure we can engage in bat-to-bat combat, a la lightsaber battle.  As I reflect on the broom, I suspect that this is for combat as well, particularly if there are low flying bats in my path.

4) Cooking

Included here are the candle and the spatula.  The hardy campers among us may know that a box of matches might be well served; a fire may make a stronger cook-center than a candle.  But I suspect that Alf Seegert knows that I’m not a hardy camper so it makes sense that I’m bringing a candle and spatula.  A key missing item seems to be a frying pan, or a flat surface on which to cook.  I suppose I could take the bat and flatten my pail, and then cook with the flattened pail – but this seems like a lot of effort.  It might be easier just to throw some granola into the rucksack.


5) Pets

This is where I’m a bit confused.  I own three cats, and so it makes sense that I would bring one of them.  I don’t know how well it would fit in my rucksack, but cats can be docile and sleepy, so the thought here might be that it would sleep soundly in the rucksack.  This is a noble idea, but if there are birds around my cat would likely burst vertically out of the rucksack in an effort to frighten them.  This would lead to a damaged rucksack, which would set my adventure back a bit.

There are two things I haven’t mentioned that are included as you start your journey.  Both fit into the broad category of pets: the dog, and the peaceful dragon.

The dog is considerably more useful than the cat, as he can sniff around and dig up gems (which I most definitely need on my journey).   Ignoring the dragon for a minute, fitting a dog and a cat into the same rucksack will take a bit of manuevering.  This is an understatement, and assumes that they are both asleep.  If they are awake, there would be a violent skirmish in the rucksack which would likely lead to a damaged rucksack.

Now let’s toss in the peaceful dragon.  No matter how peaceful the dragon is, if it is in the rucksack with a fighting dog and cat, I can’t imagine the dragon being able to stay out of it.  Perhaps this is an epic sized rucksack; even then, I think the dragon would likely panic and breath fire.  The cat would panic over the fire, and shoot vertically out of the rucksack.  The dog would be confused over the fire and damaged rucksack, and the best case scenario I can think of is that he would start digging for gems.

What’s in your rucksack?

If it the items in Fantastiqa…. I can’t imagine there would be a rucksack left.

But I have a different theory.  Fantastiqa has the player start adventuring using all of these basic household items.  The rucksack is pictured on the card in the center of the playing area.  The items “in the rucksack” are to one side.

I prefer to think that Alf is trying to get us to “travel light ™” and that to this effect that rucksack is in fact, empty.


GE38: 5 Reasons Ray Harryhausen was Incredible

Ray Harryhausen may not be well known to today’s moviegoers.  But, he was a special effects genius best known for his unique brand of stop motion animation.

Mr. Harryhausen created stop motion characters that explode off the screen.  He was best known for his work with the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts.  Mr. Harryhausen passed away on May 7, 2013.

In the episode Jonathan says it is Episode 39.  He is wrong.  It is actually episode 38.  Please accept our apologies.


Continue reading “GE38: 5 Reasons Ray Harryhausen was Incredible”

Jonathan’s TotalCon 27 Adventures

Throughout the convention I will be taking photographs, recording audio, and updating this liveblog with my experiences.

Checked in 51 minutes ago.  After I checked in, despite being told earlier the hotel wouldn’t allow it before 3pm, I ran into Ben Gerber and his wonderful wife in the lobby.

My room is AMAZING!  King size bed, couch, lots of space.  Check out the below picture of the room and the view from my balcony.  Did I forget to mention that?  Yeah, I have an inside balcony looking over the pool.  If only I brought my swim trunks with me.  Oh well, this is a GAMING convention, not a swimming one.




Time to head down to the con, check in there, get my nifty badges, and take photos of the games.


Jonathan’s TotalCon 2013 Schedule


TotalCon begins this Thursday!  After months of planning the time draws near when I get to see tons of amazing people.  The list of industry guests is impressive, as always, and there is a multitude of events to attend.

This year I will be in attendance with Troll in the Corner owner, Indie Talks host, and Growing Geeks co-host Ben Gerber.  We have some events together and other times we’re splitting off to view the con from different angles.  You can be sure that we will discuss our experiences on our respective podcasts.  Indie Talks and Growing Geeks will definitely get Ben’s take while Wargaming Recon and Geeks Explicitly mine.  Maybe we’ll also appear on each other’s shows for our shared views.

If you are coming to TotalCon this year, I’d love to meet you.  Below you can find my public con schedule.  Just look for the tall guy wearing either a Wargaming Recon t-shirt or TotalCon t-shirt or Battleground Games t-shirt.  I’ll try to post my wardrobe on Facebook for each day so you can more easily find me.


Friday February 22

3pm Dice Tower Live Podcast

Tom Vasel & Eric Summerer create an episode of the Dice Tower, live.  I’ll be in the audience enjoying the experience and learning as much as possible.

5pm Cube of Death/Dinner

Peter “Blix” Bryant of Tri Tac Games Podcast and the ConMen Podcast returns with another Cube of Death tournament.  This blends D&D and geek trivia.  Come see me make a fool of myself as I join Ben Gerber’s team, along with Wayne Moulton Jr. of Sages of RPG, in our attempt to win the tournament.

7pm Tri Tac Live Podcast

Peter “Blix” Bryant of Tri Tac Games, and his co-hosts, create this live episode.  They discuss how to run a successful horror campaign.  You can bet that I’ll pick Blix’s podcasting brain.  Hopefully I’ll learn enough from the two live podcast episodes to be able to run my own before too long.

8pm ???????

It is super secret.  After the Tri Tac Live Podcast I’ll be in the free play area looking for pickup games, chatting with fellow attendees, popping into the GM Social, and on the prowl for other fun.

11pm Podcast the Day’s Events

When I return to my hotel room I am recording my thoughts on the day.  With luck I may even be able to edit and release the recordings from the con, for your listening pleasure.

Saturday February 23

9am How to run a convention

Con staff, including Promotional Director Angelia Parenteau, share the do’s and don’t’s of running a convention.  No, I won’t be running a con anytime soon.  My purpose is to be supportive of Promotional Director Angelia and the other great con staff who have always been incredibly supportive of my podcasts.  I’m not a morning person so I’ll be the guy sitting in the back, half-asleep, wondering if he got enough sleep.

10am Breakfast

Man can’t live on gaming alone.  As Napoleon famously said, “an army marches on its stomach” and so too do I.

Noon Lunch with YourMoveGames

Chad Ellis, owner of YourMoveGames, will discuss his game Battleground and teach me how to play.  I’ll do my best to capture some audio.

1pm Vendor Hall

Time to peruse the vendor hall and maybe make a few purchases.

3pm Project London

Over 774 special effects in Project London, a sci-fi movie funded by Kickstarter for under $23,000.  Can’t wait to enjoy the show.

5pm Dinner

Adrian, Cort, and I will dine on a sumptuous meal as we talk over final prep for our event at 7pm.

7pm Battle of Freeman’s Farm

I am GMing the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, with Adrian and Cort.  American Patriots meet a combined force of British, German, and Native American troops in a “must win” battle for British General John Burgoyne.  General Burgoyne needs a clear-cut victory but will he get it?  Or, will General Benedict Arnold’s inspired leadership save the day for the Americans?

The fog of war descends as leading elements of the British army approach loyalist John Freeman’s farm just 4 miles north of Saratoga, New York…

Come join in the fun.  We provide all the models, terrain, and materials you need to play our recreation of this historical battle from the American Revolution.  We’re using 10mm models and Warlord Games’ Black Powder rules.

11pm Podcast the Day’s Events

When I return to my hotel room I am recording my thoughts on the day.  With luck I may even be able to edit and release the recordings from the con, for your listening pleasure.

Sunday February 24

11am Podcasting 1.0

Panelist Ben Gerber assures me that he’s dragging me onto the panel with him to share my knowledge of podcasting.  Tom Vasel and Peter “Blix” Bryant are also supposed to be on the panel.  Come learn the error of our ways and our successes in an effort to help you find the joy of podcasting.

Noon Adios

After Podcasting 1.0 I’m heading home.

Indie Talks Episode 16 – Phil McCoy, Jen Page, Ian Hubert and Project London

indie talks logo

Project London is a feature-length, science-fiction, action-adventure movie with 774 visual effects made by over 250 volunteers. We’ve covered the movie before and now I sit down with three of the folks responsible for Project London! Ian is the producer, writer and SFX wiz, Phil is the executive producer, film maker and all around mastermind and Jen is a principle actor playing Xing Xing Fix.

We talk about actually creating the movie, the technology that went into the movie, auditioning, Creative Commons, the passion that goes into a volunteer project, 774 freaking visual effects shots, and of course, who’s going to sing at the end of the podcast. Also Half Acre Day who did some amazing music for the film, swampy green hair and the future of the future with Project London!


Project London Official Page

Project London on Kickstarter

Ian Hubert

Phil McCoy

Jen Page

We would love to get your feedback about our show! Contact me with comments: ben@trollitc.com, follow me on twitter @trollitc and also check us out on iTunes! Hell, you can even catch us on Stitcher.  While you’re at it, there’s the Indie Talks Facebook page and the Indie Talks Google+ page. Myspace…well, I won’t go there if you wont. Please do rate this podcast on iTunes, and leave feedback through any of these links!

Indie Talks is brought to you by Noble Knight Games.  Since 1997 Noble Knight Games has been serving the needs of thousands of gamers worldwide. They specialize in both new and out-of-print RPG’s, Board Games, War Games Collectible Card Games, Miniatures and all things game related!

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