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boardgaming in photos: Japan night

I visited Japan on a family holiday in November. Since I am a big fan of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan, I seriously considered visiting the battlefield of Sekigahara. However it was rather out of the way, and there didn't seem to be a lot to see, so I eventually decided against it. Show More Summary

Small refreshing

Time for some changes, even though I rarely update this blog these days. Still. This is perhaps the third or fourth new look for the blog, and that’s not much in twelve years. Time to go modern. The new look is the new default theme from WordPress 4.1, Twenty Fifteen. I like it, it’s clean, … Continue reading Small refreshing

Three Sinister Santas for Your Holiday Game

We here at the stew have a complicated relationship with the big man in red. Sure, he’s a fantastic guy who selflessly brings presents to every child in the world in a single night, but on the other hand, it sure would be nice if everyone in the world’s list of their favorite fat bearded men with red hats didn’t start with Santa. Show More Summary

Stop Rolling All those Dice!

Today’s guest article is by Gnome Stew reader Michael, a DM with approximately 35 years of experience with roleplaying games, administrator of a D&D 5th edition community page, and a regular writer at Thanks, Michael!Show More Summary

Progress, At Last!

It's been a funny old week. It was meant to be my last week of work before I had two weeks off for Christmas. But it didn't quite go to plan. In a bad way. And then a good way! Monday morning I'd booked off to go to a Christmas show with The Daughter and The Wife. Show More Summary

Troy’s Crock Pot: Make Those Monsters Legendary, Again

Veteran game masters might fall into the trap of viewing every monster in terms of its hit dice and combat capabilities. It’s too easy to just plug in a monster that matches the requisite challenge rating, call for initiative, and play on. Show More Summary

Burgoo revisited

After I wrote about my first plays of Burgoo, a reader (thanks Rob!) pointed out a rule mistake I had made. On your turn, you don't execute all three action types one by one. You are supposed to pick just one action to execute. Now I have played Burgoo twice more, with the correct rules. Show More Summary Archive

In 2012 and 2013, we ran a New Year, New Game, a contest for GMs with a simple mission: To inspire game masters to run at least one new game each year, because trying new games broadens your horizons, challenges your skills as a GM, and can deepen your enjoyment of gaming as a hobby. Show More Summary

Imperial Settlers

Plays: 2Px2. The Game Imperial Settlers is a reimplementation of 51st State. 51st State had an improved version, called The New Era, not long ago. This time round Imperial Settlers is a major revamp giving it a different setting in the process. Imperial Settlers is a card tableau game, like Race For The Galaxy, San Juan, London and Gosu. Show More Summary

The Art Book Campaign

I recently picked up The Art of Ian Miller, a gorgeous book jam-packed with illustrations by one of my favorite fantasy artists. I picked it up not only because I love Ian’s artwork and I’ll enjoy having the book in my collection, but...Show More Summary

The Real Issues With Encounter Balance

This past week, I was listening to the new and excellent podcast, Gaming & BS. The episode was about Game Balance, and the hosts, Sean and Brett, had an interesting discussion about Encounter Balance in RPGs. Their discussion was solid, but as they were talking I realized that Encounter Balance is not the root issue. Show More Summary

revisiting 2012 eagerness ranking

Roughly once a year I force rank the games published in a particular year that I have played, which I find to be an interesting exercise. And roughly one more year after that I revisit the list to see whether my opinion has changed, and whether there are more games of that year which I have played. Show More Summary

Dungeon Crawl: Adding More Roleplaying

Dungeon crawls are a staple of roleplaying. For this article, let’s expand the definition of dungeon beyond traditional tombs and caves. Crashed spaceships, inner-city sewers, and post-apocalyptic abandoned malls are all really variations on the dungeon. Show More Summary


Plays: 4Px1. The Game Players are directors as well as shareholders of their respective shipping companies. During the course of the game, they need to run a profitable business signing contracts with customers from different regions, and shipping goods between the eastern and western ends of the Panama Canal. Show More Summary

Too Busy!

Last week I thought I was going to be busy, but in the end I was too busy and ended up getting very little done indeed. I managed to finish the boxes for the NaGa DeMon winners' copies, but sadly that was it. This week was supposed to be even busier. Show More Summary

Coincidental Complications; or, Side Quests Broadly Applied

Anyone who’s played any edition of Dungeons & Dragons or its derivatives are familiar with the concept of the side quest. Whether generated through a random encounter roll, the need for members of the group to kill some time becauseShow More Summary

The Staufer Dynasty

Plays: 4Px1. Disclaimer: I didn't read the rules myself, and we learned and played the game speaking Cantonese and Mandarin, so some of the game terms I use here may be completely off. The Game The Staufer Dynasty is an area majority game played over five rounds. Show More Summary

In Media Res

Today’s guest article is by Patrick Regan, a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, who learned how to write for TV by GMing after a college roommate made the mistake of showing him Dungeons and Dragons. He blogs at, podcasts at Cinema Excelsior, and can be generally found on Facebook and Twitter @underwoodfive. Show More Summary

The Villainous A.I. in Your Games

Today’s guest article is the second piece by reader Tony G., who previously contributed A Case for Multiple Game Masters to the Stew. Thanks, Tony! –Martin If you are like 99% of the comic and gamer world, You’ve seen the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Show More Summary

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