The Action Points Podcast! Episode 9: Storytelling in Boardgames

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Firstly, apologies for missing last week. This week we have two episodes for your aural enjoyment!

In this episode:

We talk about storytelling in boardgames – boardgames that tell stories, games that use storytelling as a mechanic, or just the stories we tell about boardgames? Before we get to that though, Daniel and I talk about playing Myrmes and macro-ing. Evan also gives us his impression of the new Tomb Raider, and overcoming his initial apprehensions. Parameters and Divekick also get brief mentions, and I’ve briefly written about Parameters here too. In comics talk, I gush on and on about finally reading Locke & Key. A little late to the party, but the advantage is that I get to tear right through 5 Volumes in 2 days. It’s really great, you guys. Also, audio issues! Yaaaaay! Evan tells us about the GTFO Kickstarter (which has ended) and 30 Days of Sexism. Sexism is gross, you guys. Don’t do it. In other Kickstarter news, Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors was also looking for the moolage. They got it btw. High five. Daniel and I also reminisce about some older books, particularly The Amtrak Wars for Daniel.

So: Storytelling in boardgames. We obviously talk about role playing games: Dungeons & Dragons and Fiasco get mentions (Daniel brings up Dungeons & Dragons & Bitches). Risk Legacy is another game that really takes the story of a game to a whole new level, with every game being unique to your experience playing it. Remember Choose Your Own Adventure game books? Tales of the Arabian Nights is basically a group Choose Your Own Adventure game, which is obviously using a form of storytelling as a game mechanic. Cooperative games like Shadows Over Camelot, Ghost Stories, Battlestar Galactica and D-Day Dice also implement a lot of narrative and storytelling hooks to get the players invested in beating the game. There are also the crop of light role playing games marketed as board games, like Mice and Mystics and the Dungeons and Dragons adventure games. The implementation of storytelling and narrative in games also highlights the differences between games as experiences and games as competitive exercises. The old flavour vs mechanics argument, thematic vs abstract. We look at some Euro-style games, which are slightly more abstracted such as Ra and Power Grid. We also examine games that have individual pieces that are highly thematic, even though the overall game may be more abstracted. Examples are the personality cards in Discworld: Ankh Morpork, the hero and villain cards in Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game and individual card concepts and flavour text in Magic: the Gathering. For Magic fans, we discuss some of the flavour text gems of a certain fire-slinging task mage whose name rhymes with Jaya Ballard (It’s Jaya Ballard!). For all other normal people, there’s a chunk of the podcast you can use to get to sleep, yaysies! There’s also a long discussion of our experiences with Dungeons and Dragons. Also, a mystery prize for whoever can tell us what RPG Evan was talking about (Spoiler Alert: It’s our love).

Download link below or on iTunes:, and feel free to send us any feedback at theactionpointspodcast@gmail.com.

Episode 9 – Storytelling in Boardgames

Music: Theme for Harold (var. 2) by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a CC Attribution 3.0.

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