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Geek Discussion- Teaching Board Games- 38

Episode Overview

In this “Geek Discussion” Episode of Season 5 of Board Gaming with Education, Dustin brings on Jay and Spencer to talk about teaching board games. In this episode, they cover two gaming terms: “the magic circle” and “the teach.” Listen in to hear them discuss these terms and what they mean. They also share actionable items that you can do to participate in the conversation: “When teaching a game, what associations of board game mechanics and theme do you use as an example to help the players remember a particular rule?” Listen in and let us know what you think!

Jay runs the Asian board game review site called Cardboard East. Spencer owns a vegan restaurant in Taipei called Ooh Cha Cha. He also wrote and designed the RPG system The Northern Realm.

Read more about the episode and take a look at the games they talk about in this episode below.

Our new Facebook Group for Educators: Games-based Learning, Gamification, and Games in Education

Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their song “Bats in the Belfry” for our cut-audio segment and “8-bit Heaven” for our sponsorship segment. These songs can be found in full on this music archive.

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Episode Topics

Amped Up Learning- 1:23

Amped Up Learning, a teacher owned company, that strives to make
learning fun, engaging and competitive with their unique games and
teacher-created lessons.

Check out their game FRECK!- A new tabletop card game AND classroom resource aimed at teaching your students key social studies vocabulary in an engaging, competitive & creative way. Easy-to-learn game steps, quick-hitting clues & dynamic gameplay make FRECK! a must-have for every history classroom.

Jay and Spencer- 2:08

Jay and Spencer make their first appearance on the Board Gaming with Education podcast! They will be around a lot as semi-regular co-hosts for Season 5. Be sure to listen in to get to know Jay from Cardboard East and Spencer from vegan restaurant Ooh Cha Cha and designer of Northern Realms.

Gaming Terms: “The Teach”- 14:36

Dustin, Jay, and Spencer discuss the term “the teach.” This term is used to describe the time that is used to teach a new board game. Some examples: “The teach was good.” OR “The teach was short, concise, and clear.”

Gaming Terms: “The Magic Circle”- 6:08″

“The magic circle” is a social contract that is established among players when playing a board game. There are certain rules or things that you just do not do when playing a game. It is a type of unspoken, unwritten social contract the players enter when they play a game. Be sure to listen in to hear the geek discussion about this gaming topic!

Spencer also shares his insights about established social contracts in the RPG gaming world.

Teaching Board Games

In this Geek Discussion Episode, Dustin, Jay, and Spencer dive into the topic of teaching board games. They all share their techniques for teaching games and some suggestions you can use when you teach a board game.

Dustin starts with an introduction to the theme and goes into explaining the basic objectives of the game. He also likes to make associations between the theme and the mechanics to help players remember different rules in the game. For example, in Sushi Go, you collect dessert cards throughtout the three rounds. However, unlike the rest of the cards you keep the dessert cards until the end of the game. At the end of each round, they do not get shuffled back into the deck like the rest of the cards. Whenever he teaches this part of the game, he always says something along the lines, “you have to save room for dessert and eat it last! So be sure to keep and score your dessert cards for the end of the game.”

Jay also goes into theme and the goal as the first two things he introduces when explaining how to play a game. He also likes to involve the players in the setup and game process by giving them jobs as they play. He also uses a lot of catch phrases to help associate different rules to make the rules more memorable.

Spencer shares his experience teaching games at his restaurant Ooh Cha Cha. He has taught a few different games, some complex and some simple. His biggest struggle is being available for players to ask questions as they play the game. Listen in to how he manages these situations at his restaurant.


When you teach a game, what mechanic do you associate with the theme to help the players remember the rules? Find us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

Games from the Episode

Throughout the episode several games are mentioned. If any of these games sound like something you might enjoy playing yourself or in your class, you can help support our podcast by purchasing these games through our Amazon affiliate links. We will earn a small commission at no expense to you. Check out the games below:


Terra Mystica


Go Fish Yourself

Dice Fishing

Twilight Struggle

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