Tom Vasel, prolific game reviewer and podcaster, has agreed to do an interview with me. We talked about games, podcasting and a few others topics, Read on to learn more!
I'm talking today with the prolific board game reviewer Tom Vasel. Would you take a moment to introduce yourself Tom?
First and foremost, I'm the husband of my beautiful wife Laura, and father to four cute little girls. After that, I'm a missionary teacher in South Korea, where I teach math at Uijongbu International Christian School and work at Uijongbu Baptist Church. As for games, I review quite a few of them online, and also am the host of The Dice Tower, a podcast about board and card games.
Tom, I've heard tell that your game collection has grown so big you had to move to a new house, how big is your game collection?
As much as I like games, I would never base a move on them! That would be giving them too high of a priority. But thankfully, I do live in a larger house now, and thus have room for all my games. I currently have 1119 games and expansions - and while that may seem oddly exact, I just did inventory a few hours a go!
That's a big collection! Out of all of those games, how many of them are actively played each month?
Hmm, maybe only fifty? I use games in youth group, my board game club, with my wife and kids, with a local gaming group, and with a group on the military bases. It seems like a small percentage are actively played, but I play different games most months.
Have you ever encountered a game that blew you away at first but after playing it you found it lost a lot of replay value?
That is a hard one. I'm not nearly as enamored with some games as when I first played them, such as Descent and Tigris and Euphrates, but games usually go up and down for me. I have to say, though - if I'm blown away by a game when I first play it, it usually stays that way for a long, long time. My favorite games now are still my favorites from years ago. Yes, there are flucuations, but that's usually the case of another game moving up, not my favorites moving down.
What is your current favorite game?
Easy answer - Duel of Ages, by Venatic Games. Very few board games have the sheer variety and thematic qualities as this one does. Every time I use Kit Carson with a blowtorch fighting off the futuristic TIAX assassin with it's greatsword while riding a skateboard, I have such a terrific time it's hard to remember that it's just a board game. I don't think this one will ever be replaced - I like it that much.
What about your girls, do they have a favorite game?
This comes and goes - as they tend to like different games at different times. Sometimes we go through a stretch of Candyland (shudder), and other times Sleeping Queens. The one they enjoy playing with the most is Heroscape - mostly for its toy factor. I have about fifty or sixty children's games, so I keep them rotating so that I don't go insane from playing the same game over and over again.
On your podcast, The Dice Tower, you do not often talk about gaming with kids. Do you have any tips for parents who want to introduce gaming to their kids?
That's a difficult question to answer, mostly because all kids are different. Almost every child I've met WANTS to play board games, so that part is not a problem. If they don't want to, then that probably means they're glued to the TV/Video Games - and the solution there is to simply turn them off. Parents who want to introduce gaming to their kids have to realize that they need to invest time. There are many times where I'm busy and my daughter wants to play games with me and I need to stop what I'm doing and play a quick game with them. If I treat it as if it's extremely unimportant, then so will they.
If the game is not fun for you, but fun for them - realize that, and play it anyway. However, there are a TON of games that are fun for both adults and children. Monkey Memory, Gulo Gulo, and Hey! That's My Fish are ones that come to mind.
And don't get me started as to WHY it's important to game with your children.
Is there a game your kids love but you can't stand?
Maybe any game, the twentieth time they ask me to play it? But even once, I despise Candyland and Chutes and Ladders (unless it's that cool three dimensional version with the marbles.)
A lot of gamers leave their gaming "in the closet" because they often feel it's a kid's hobby and that adults should not be playing games. What is your opinion on that subject?
This is true, across the world. My answer to that is that we need to change people's perceptions on the subject. Get them to play one game that they like - and they will never look at it as a kid's hobby again! Besides, you can always point out their huge DVD and movie collections, cheering like an idiot at sports games, or doing various other hobbies! Games is a FAMILY hobby, and those who think otherwise are blinding themselves. To hide it is to only prove what people are saying. I'm not saying that folks should flaunt it, but show people that it is a worthwhile opportunity if you get the chance!