159 – Portal Gaming Podcast with Brandt Sanderson – The Family Gamers Podcast
Our guest today is someone we’ve known for a long time, and a member of the Dice Tower Network. Brandt Sanderson is the host of “The Portal Gaming Podcast”… but Andrew and Anitra have known him since they all went to college together. In fact, Andrew and Brandt were roommates one year.
Brandt didn’t play many board games in college, though, and we just lost track of each other. Andrew and Brandt randomly ran into each other at the New York Toy Fair in 2017.
The reason Brandt was at Toy Fair: He works part-time for The Portal, a game store in Manchester CT, finding ways to reach out to the community. One of the first ideas he came up with was The Portal Gaming Podcast – no other store was doing a podcast or reviewing games.
The podcast used to be twice a month, but now they try to release an episode every week, with a rotation of hosts through the month: 1 solo, 1 with wife Cathy, 1 with Bryan the manager, and 1 grab-bag.
Not just the gaming podcast
That’s not all Brandt does: by day, he teaches math – at an art school! “The school I’m in is never chill.”
He no longer gets a week off in February, and that’s awkward because President’s Day weekend is when NY Toy Fair is held.
This leads us to discuss different conventions. Brandt even runs a small convention out of his house in the fall: VannerCon. Listen to his podcast for more information.
Do you incorporate board gaming into your math teaching?
Sometimes. In fact, leading into this long weekend he taught: Ganz Schön Clever! The kids had fun, but even this light game was not a great fit for all of the class. “It’s basically a color-coded spreadsheet!” In fact, light games are not always great introduction games. e.g. Ancestree, Spaceteam.
When Brandt taught a statistics course (at a different school), he incorporated lots of hands-on activities, including games like King of Tokyo.
First, they simply learned how to play. Then they tracked data on a later play. Then did single-variable analysis, multi-variable analysis, and probability throughout the year.
Let’s talk about some games!
Echidna Shuffle – can be family or cutthroat, and we love the equalizing of the die rolls.
Horrified – classic monsters have escaped from their movie sets. Track 2-4 of them down & eliminate them! Each monster has a different way to deal with it. Werewolf: mix a potion, give it to him. Creature from the Black Lagoon: play certain color cards, gradually climbing a ladder to reach the creature. Card draws to tell you to lay out items, specials for a monster, actions for all other monsters. Same deck for everything!
Villainous – best at 2-3, because with more players, you have to keep track of too many different goals/abilities.
Point Salad – draft cards for points, or to build your salad. “It works!” (from AEG)
CABO – (from Bezier) Keep your 3 cards face-down. Try to get the lowest score, but you can only peek or change up cards when you draw specials. How does it compare with Silver, also from Bezier? Fewer special powers.
Sushi Roll – Brandt is not a fan. Draft your dice, one at a time. More player interaction, but slower. Easier to teach? He prefers Sushi Go. Personally, we think Draftosaurus is replacing Sushi Go in our family.
Funkoverse – Good, but Brandt likes Unmatched better.
Unicorn Glitterluck Cloud Stacking – great fun, especially with 4-year-olds who WANT it to fall.
Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates – a deck-builder without an economy. Instead of buying cards, it’s a race – first person to each location gets the best card of that type.
Batman: The Animated Series: Gotham Under Siege – cooperative games with 3D buildings, and tons and tons of villains that come out. Random event cards, lots of powers, especially at 5 players. “How are we going to kill 30 villains? And then you do.”
Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist – a little complex but so fun to work through. John Maclane is basically a superhero (and very fun to play), but the main goal for the thieves is NOT to stop him, just slow him down a bit.
Noxford – steampunk area-control card game. Andrew picked it up on a whim for $10. Not fantastic, but worth the low price. Play your henchmen, etc. to try to surround and “control” city cards. Gear cards let you move any un-locked piece of the city!
Dizzle – another abstract roll-and-write. Draft dice, and some of the special powers encourage more player interaction as well.
Passtally – “rupee shaped” pieces. Tally the number of “passes” your path makes, and layered pieces count for more points. A brain-burner for most people.
Brandt’s daughter Zephra isn’t a big gamer, but she does like IceCOOL and Ticket to Ride. We discuss Ticket to Ride versions: New York, Nordic Countries, Pennsylvania, Rails & Sails, and UK. There is definitely a version for everyone!
At GenCon, Brandt played QE (Quantitative Easing) – based on the idea that if a country runs out of money, you can just print more. It’s an auction game where you can bid any amount you want (write your bid with dry erase marker)! At the end of the game, the player who “printed” the most money over the course of the game IMMEDIATELY loses.
Find Brandt Online:
Come to The Portal in Manchester Connecticut!
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Love this kind of stuff. I feel like if I would have paid way more attention in math class if the teacher had incorporated games into class I would have paid way more attention.
Also, had NO idea there was a QE board game. I’ve acutally gotten into ecnoomics in my older age and have always found the idea of printing money to keep the economy going fascinating yet dangerous.