AFFILIATE LINKS AHOY!
What follows is an accounting of the gear, costumes, craft supplies, board games, and snacks that i purchased for the channel this past year. If you’d like to buy anything from this list, click any of the images to shop at Amazon. If you make a purchase, your price remains the same, and i’ll receive a small commission! Thanks so much in advance.
Did you contribute any cold, hard cash to Nights Around a Table in 2021 through the Patreon campaign? Are you concerned it merely furthered Ryan’s crippling heroin addiction? Well fear no more! Heroin is a far more responsible expenditure than what i got up to in NAaT’s 4th year of operations in 2021. Here’s how i put your Patreon subscription money, Twitch subscriptions and Bits, YouTube ad revenue and Superchat tips, Amazon Associates commissions, and gift donations to work this past year.
Standard issue Nights Around a Table uniform is a pair of plaid flannel pyjama bottoms and a black T-shirt. But as you know, i like to festoon my noggin with thematic headware to complement whatever game i’m discussing. My budget is about $10-20 per hat, and i generally only buy new hats for commissioned videos (because it’s not guaranteed that i’ll break even on YouTube ad revenue if i go blowing a whole tenner on a rockin’ chapeau). But there were some exceptions.
Pope-level patron Mikey B requested that i play through Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, so i ordered a Holmes costume (speaking of heroin). There were a few things standing in my way: 1. i had not yet taken the plunge and started livestreaming — SO SCARY! — and 2. my wife Cheryl really enjoys the game, and didn’t want me to play it without her. (We’re about halfway through the cases together.) There’s also a sort of wistfulness attached to it, because Consulting Detective is a game we used to play together with friends at a rented cottage every year. Now the cottage has been sold and is no longer available, and COVID-19 has made getting together with friends under any circumstances unviable. So the Holmes costume sits in the NAaT tickle trunk, waiting for its moment in the sun.
Wherever possible, i try to get a lot of bang for your buck. If i can work a costume into multiple videos, it’s a win. This captain hat showed up in our Fleet: the Dice Game unboxing with Seanny-Oh, my subsequent playthru of Fleet: the Dice Game, and then our playthru of Le Havre with Cheryl. How did i get my hands on two captains’ hats? Well, the first one i ordered never showed up, so i requested a refund and bought a second hat from another source. Perhaps a week after the refund was processed, the original hat i ordered showed up. It had probably been stuck in the Suez Canal all that time.
My name is Paul Revere / i got your horse right here. Dress up like a 1930’s bank teller and/or bookie with this stylish, transclucent green visor, which i employed in my Long Shot: the Dice Game playthru. i’ll be posting my How to Play Long Shot: The Dice Game video, which first aired on Rahdo Runs Through, once the Kickstarter campaign is fulfilled.
Sorry, folks – this one’s not for sale! The custom mushroom hat that i donned at the beginning of my Everdell Playthru video was created by my crafty kid Isabel, who has spent the year steeped in “goblin core” couture and craft projects.
Although technically i purchased them in 2020 for the How to Play Dead Reckoning video, i got some mileage out of my faux-leather pirate tricorn and eyepatch this year, first by extolling he virtues of Merchants & Marauders, the best pirate board game of all time, in a Find the Fun video, and then by flunking out of the solo mode in the first few rounds of a Merchants & Marauders solo playthru and reminding myself that maybe it wasn’t so hot.
Your money did not pay for this broad-brimmed safari hat that featured in my Find the Fun: Lost Ruins of Arnak video, because i have owned it for many years, and unironically wear it in the summertime to keep the sun off my readily-burned face. (And you thought Tom Vasel was the only board game guy who wears a cringey hat.)
i may not be responsible with my own money, but i try to be a good caretaker of yours. So when it came time for me to don a friar’s robe for our playthru of Ora & Labora (part of Uwe Rosenberg Month 2021) i just couldn’t justify parting with 40 Canuckbucks for a monk’s robe like this from Amazon. Instead, Cheryl used her considerable crafting skills to make and then dye one for me, pulling it out of the dryer mere minutes before showtime. (For his part, special guest Omelet apparently just pulled one of his monk’s robes from his fully stocked monastic wardrobe.)
i think the effort was justified, because i have a startling number of board games i can cover that call for this robe, from Mystery of the Abbey to Genotype to Orléans to Pulsar 2849.
NAaT’s copy of Ora & Labora (watch the secret mystery unboxing) was generously furnished by Patreon backer DMExplains in 2020.
Here’s a great example of why i don’t go nuts buying costumes for every video i make. i bought this plastic crown to liven up my How to Play Crown of Emara video, and i reused it in my commissioned How to Play Trinity of Reign video over at Rahdo Runs Through. The crown was a mere 10 Canuckbucks, but the Emara video has brought in only $15 in ad revenue in its entire lifetime. A review copy of the game was supplied by publisher Pegasus Spiele. The video took 32 hours of labour to produce, earning me a cool 46 cents an hour. And counting.
This is why your support of the channel matters so much: not every video is going to hit, and even the ones that do don’t earn very much. If you enjoy watching videos about board games, please continue to financially support your local me.
The idea here was to buy a cheap set of snorkel gear at Wal Mart for 20 bucks, use it in the How to Play Underwater Cities video, and then return it to the store. In the end, i couldn’t bring myself to do it. i knew a used snorkel would just go in the landfill, so i decided to hang on to it in case it came in handy during some fantasy pool or lake scenario in the future when we’re allowed to leave our houses. Imagine!
This superhero mask that i wore in the How to Play Outnumbered: Improbable Heroes video was only a dollar at Party City. And then i lost it. But i didn’t feel too bad, because it was only a dollar at Party City. So i went back and bought another one, and then found the first one. So now i have two masks, which would cost two dollars at Party City. Math!
A game about the future requires accessories from the future, so i donned these 1980’s style wraparound visor sunglasses for my Anachrony: Infinity Box reboxing and subsequent Anachrony solo mode playthru. Eyesight in the future must be enhanced somehow, because my antiquated 21st century eyeballs could not see out of these things. Not recommended.
i decided i needed a proper paper fast food hat for my How to Play Food Chain Magnate video, but they only come from Amazon in packs of a thousand, so i sat down and made my own using scrap cardboard, tissue paper, and a red marker. Your money probably paid for the marker. i dunno.
Okay: truth be told, the Santa hat with integrated beard and reindeer antlers that we wore for our Patchwork: Christmas Edition playthru (part of Uwe Rosenberg Month 2021) were already in our personal supply of silly hats, but i’m including them here for the sake of costume completionism.
Ditto this balaclava, which is a key part of my arsenal to combat our harsh Canadian winters. i realized during the Dead of Winter reboxing video that i had been incorrectly calling it a “snood” for many years (a snood is a simple tube that covers just the neck and face)… probably because i just really like the word “snood.” And “balaclava” sounds too much like “baklava,” a supposed dessert that i deem to be gross.
Celebrating my forty-somethingth’d birthday called for a very special hat, as i fulfilled a promimse to many of you to finally play through my birthday game, Trickerion: Legends of Illusion, on solo mode against Dahlgaard’s Heir. It was nice to use all the lovely metal coins and upgraded bits in the Collector’s Edition, but the solo mode proved to be rather onerous, ringing in at around eight hours(!!). The playthru lasted so long that you all unlocked a second, even sillier birthday hat midway through the experience.
i picked up a few more costumes for the tickle trunk that you haven’t seen, including a boss-looking wizard hat with stars on it, a construction hat for an upcoming Kickstarter game, and a Ceasar-style laurel leaf crown. If you like playing dress-up as much as i do, there are more costumes to come… along with some special chat integrations involving costumes and channel points!
Last year at Christmas, i purchased a 3D resin printer, with a more traditional FDM printer to follow a few months later, all with a mind towards a new Nights Around a Table show called Bits, Please!
Along with miniature painting, 3D printing is an absolutely perfect adjunct hobby for board gamers that helps solve the dilemma where you have too many board games and you’re out of shelf space, but you still want to buy things.
Turns out, there’s plenty more ways to blow dough when you try to deepen your collection and add tactile or aesthetic value to it. A good portion of your Patreon contributions this year went towards model paint, spray paint, resin, and PLA – so, so much PLA (that’s the plastic stuff that you feed an FDM printer to make custom board game inserts).
i didn’t get as many Bits, Please! episodes out this year as i had hoped to — partly because my ambitions outstripped my aggressive one-episode-a-month schedule, and partly because my equipment suffered breakdowns and broken parts that stopped me in my tracks. Thankfully, we’re starting to roll the 3D printing snowball together on the Nights Around a Table Discord Server, with a few more knowledgeable people in the #3d-printing channel helping out newbies like myself, and our ranks are growing! i expect the 3D printing/painting/crafting side of NAaT to grow tremendously in 2022. Here’s a rundown of where the money went:
This is the first printer i purchased around Christmas of 2020. It’s an SLA printer, which means it takes resin instead of rolls of PLA. i wasn’t allowed to use it until we had properly vented it out the window, and the first episode of the Seanny-Oh named series Bits, Please! (originally titled “Show Your Bits” because i have no class) was about our efforts to do just that.
We used this fan:
And a hose like this one:
And used two dryer vents like these ones on either end, one of which we had to cut and adapt to fit the printer:
Anycubic had a special on their Wash & Cure Station, so i bought that as well. It’s been great:
i learned very on that rinsing resin down the drain is bad for the fishies, and bad for the drain. One severe clog early on had me buying these disposable aluminum pans:
My current method is to rinse isopropyl alcohol-bathed prints from the Wash & Cure station in the sink inside these pans, so the resin water doesn’t escape. Then i clean the prints, which involves snapping off all the support struts with a pair of snips. The model goes into the station for UV curing, and all the wasted struts stay in the pan, which i put on my back deck so the sun can cure them over a course of days or weeks.
You need a lot of isopropyl alcohol to fill up that Wash & Cure Station, but thankfully, it’s reusable. i bought mine by the crate at CostCo, but as usual, you can find it on Amazon:
i put the resin printer to immediate use creating resource holders for Everdell:
Once that was up and running, i realized that you couldn’t reliably print boxes and flat planes on an SLA printer with resin, and i so desperately wanted to print this amazing Lost Ruins of Arnak insert. So i purchased the other kind of 3D printer, an FDM printer from the same company who made my resin printer, Anycubic. This is their Mega Zero 2.0:
The MZ2.0 worked fine for a short time, but i spent much of the year struggling with it. i was thrilled that the cost of entry for 3D printing was only a few hundred bucks, but i’ve spent more than that (of YOUR MONEY) trying to get it to work reliably.
i very quickly damaged the original magnetic build plate that shipped with the printer. Anycubic sent me a replacement pad free of charge, while i auditioned this treated glass plate:
Before long, my prints had ripped a chunk out of the plate, so i returned it.
People online told me not to mess with any of that stuff and buy a PEI build plate instead, which is a piece of springy metal that you can just flex to pop off stubborn prints:
i bought something similar for my resin printer from a company called WhamBam, and have had a lot of success with those plates as well.
My days of laboriously scraping stuck prints off my stock build plates were over.
However, all of the issues i’d endured, and all of the damage i’d done to my nozzle along the way, caused a rather severe blockage that seeped all over my hot end (the collection of bits that melts the PLA plastic so you can print with it). i bought this set of replacement nozzles:
But the hot end was too far gone by that point, so i wound up ordering a replacement hot end from AnyCubic:
All this transpired over the summer, which is why you saw a drop-off in new Bits, Please! episodes around that time.
Another big issue i had was that despite very many tries, my bed levelling was still off. The print bed has to be a consistent number of millimeters away from your print nozzle, and the MZ2.0 gives you four adjustment knobs beneath the bed to accomplish this, but i could never quite figure out how to get it perfect. It may sound dumb, but one piece of the puzzle was to draw these little notes for myself so i wouldn’t have to guess which direction i should be turning the dials:
While i was ordering upgrades, i decided to buy a BL Touch, which is a sort of mechanical tongue that dips down and measures the distance between the bed and the nozzle, and adjusts the printer’s z distance accordingly:
But again, being a frugal fellow, i didn’t want to spend your money on the expensive one, so i bought the knock-off one:
i waited some time for it to arrive, and then realized that i needed a pin adapter to even plug it into my printer’s board:
i wrote an article about the experience of trying to get it to work. As it stands, the device is still attached to my printer, but it isn’t connected. i just couldn’t get the firmware to work properly, and i wonder if it’s an issue of the device diverting too much power from the board that’s required for other functions? Anyway, it seems like an unfortunate combination of cheap printer meets cheap device. Some more expensive 3d printers come with these auto-levelling devices already attached, and others have a very convenient port just above the hot end that you can plug auto-levellers into, instead of opening up your machine’s case and futzing around with the circuit board.
At any rate, another excellent upgrade i made to the printer was to print this replacement fan shroud:
The original one was constantly getting snagged on my uneven prints, snapping off, and then improperly cooling the rest of my print job, resulting in non-Euclidian abominations like this:
Massive thanks to Discord members pimogo, anwei, roofuskit, enaudible, and Auberon for helping me get through these troubled times in the new-to-2021 #3dprinting channel.
My recommendations, after all this trial and error, are these:
- The Anycubic Photon S is a great machine and i haven’t had any trouble with it. It’s a good buy.
Same with the wash & cure station.
- Definitely buy flexible metal build plates for your 3D printers, SLA and FDM alike. They’re a lifesaver.
- The Anycubic Mega Zero 2.0 is a budget, entry level printer that may give you more trouble than it’s worth. i haven’t found a lot of community support for it. The Facebook groups of people who own it aren’t all that active. Many more experienced people recommend the Creality Ender 3.0 as a starter printer. i’ve found that the MZ2.0 build volume is too small to fabricate a number of larger pieces for certain board game inserts, like the resource holder for Xia: Legends of a Drift System, the bottom tray for A Feast for Odin, and the top player board tray for this Praga Caput Regni insert (but the Ender 3 has the same small build volume). If you’d like to buy an FDM printer (and as a board game lover, i think you should!) consider investing a little more money so that you’ll have fewer hardware problems than i have.
- If you’re antsy about waste, the amount of pointless plastic you produce with a resin printer may bother you, so consider an FDM printer instead.
- If you want to print minis and intricate pieces, buy an SLA printer. If you want to print inserts to better organize your games, buy an FDM printer. If you have generous patrons like i do, buy both!
i haven’t even begun to burn through all of the resin i bought for the SLA printer, but the FDM printer has been eating plastic like an animal the entire year. Many of your Patreon bucks have gone towards buying PLA, which i originally purchased from Amazon before discovering it could be had for half the cost from local shops. Amazon does offer the advantage of same- or next-day shipping if you have a Prime account, but it can’t justify $40 Canuckbucks/roll vs $20-24/roll at places like 3DPrintingCanada or Canada Computers. Conclusion: don’t buy your PLA from Amazon if you live in Canada.
i haven’t been able to parlay all of my 3D printing activity into Bits, Please! episodes because there’s more stuff i want to do in many of these projects, but just to assure you i haven’t been slouching, here’s a gallery of different inserts i’ve printed and some sneak previews of upcoming Bits, Please! episodes:
The biggest upgrade to Nights Around a Table in 2021 was livestreaming. i have been building up to it for maybe two years now, slowly amassing the equipment i’d need to pull off the myriad camera angles and on-screen animations i’d need to host an entertaining live show. i was running tests and trying to build up my confidence from as early as Feburary, when some of the patrons hopped on to help me figure things out. Here’s a behind the scenes view of my first ever (unlisted) livestream, in case you’d like to see just how far the channel has come:
(like… would you feel comfortable livestreaming if this was your maiden voyage?)
The big fear i had about livestreaming was that something would go wrong, technically, during the stream, and i’d embarrass myself. i picked up a lot of volunteer hours in my youth working with the local cable teevee station, and i knew exactly what not to do to avoid being yelled at by the high-strung directors who thought they should be running Hollywood by now, instead of barking orders at volunteer high schoolers while filming small-town city council meetings.
By summer of 2021, i took the plunge and started livestreaming anyway, despite my fears, and despite not feeling ready. And just before i did, i made one of the largest and — ultimately — most important equipment purchases of the entire year:
This huge teevee is big enough for me to see from my chair behind the table. i can sit there with my mouse and keyboard and adjust camera angles and colouring, instead of craning my neck to look at the output on The Jerk’s monitors, situated as they are at a nearly perpendicular angle. i position the teevee so that the chat window is near the lens of the camera, to make it appear as much as possible that i’m looking at viewers when i speak to them. i can’t overstate how important this piece of equipment has been to enabling all of the livestreams i’ve done this year. It was absolutely the missing link that made it all possible.
2-player Level Up!
Months into livestreaming, i knew i wanted to be able to facilitate 2-player games. i’ve long wanted to include my friends on livestreams. i think it’s an important piece of social proof… like, this guy isn’t just some lonely bearded weirdo who works in his basement and pushes cardboard around all day. It’s important to me that the audience gets a sense of who i am and where i live, and who i hang around with, especially since board gaming, for me, is the main way that i like to interface with my friends. It’s the core activity. None of us are into rock climbing or skiing. This is what we do instead.
Of course, to quote Boromir, one does not simply add a second player to a stream. It became quickly apparent, after playing Xia: Legends of a Drift System with Dave and struggling to see his pieces on the table, that accommodating a second player meant adding a fourth camera to the setup. (Camera 1 shoots the host, Camera 2 shoots the table, Camera 3 shoots the host’s player board, and Camera 4 would catch the guest’s player board).
So what would it require? Well, we’d need another physical camera. But they’re expensive. We could use Cheryl’s iPhone in a pinch. There are drawbacks, of course. But that’s what we did. Every time we do a stream that has 2 players, i pilfer Cheryl’s phone about half an hour before the stream, and madly hook it up and set its angles and colour/focus (which always, always change, because the phone’s never allowed to sit and be adjusted and stay adjusted between streams — that’s why on certain streams, like our recent Obsession playthru, Cheryl’s player board view looks downright atrocious).
And you can’t just plug an iPhone into a computer and make it go. You need an HDMI adapter to pull the signal:
and that has to feed into some sort of capture card. i’m using this one for the host cam:
but i didn’t want to spend your money on another, so i rehabilitated an older, knock-off capture card that i used in year two:
i don’t recommend this one at all. When the guest cam moves or gets bumped, you get this weird video effect that showcases the card’s inferior quality. The Camlink 4K is clearly the superior capture card here. In writing this post, i’m starting to see a trend… i try to save a buck by buying the cheaper option, and then it doesn’t work very well (if at all). But it’s hard to justify this initial outlay because, to put it into perspective, i’ve been livestreaming once or twice a week now for months, and haven’t cracked $100 in revenue share on the Twitch platform. How much of this can be treated as an initial investment before it starts feeling like good money after bad?
Then, to hold the new camera, i had to get a boom arm like this one:
and a bigass HDMI cable:
and you need to keep it plugged in while you’re streaming, so you need a power block and a lightning cable. (i “borrow” Cheryl’s from her side of the bed.) So you’re already about a hundred bucks deep buying all the accoutrements to just hold the new camera and plug it in – never mind the actual cost of the camera itself!
The question of how much to spend on a non-money-earning venture was very much on my mind after adding that temporary 4th camera, because now, the foot pedal i use to hands-free switch between shots during a livestream doesn’t have enough buttons:
It caps out at three, but i’d somehow need a 4th button to switch out to that extra camera. Not only that, but (as Rahdo taught me) you can set up all kinds of different closeups of your main board using a 4K camera going out to a 1080p feed, but you still need a way to switch to those different views. With a complex livestream like the Anachrony solo playthru, i was juggling as many as thirteen different shots! 3 buttons was no longer going to cut it.
Now, if you have money, you get yourself one of these:
An Elgato Streamdeck has a abunch of programmable buttons that allow you to switch camera shots, trigger animations, fire off scripts, and so on. But they cost a lot of money, and if we’ve seen a trend here, it’s that Ryan gravitates towards the cheapest solution he can possibly find. But for once, i think the solution i stumbled upon was an absolute win. i discovered Touch Portal:
After the big teevee, this was the second best thing that happened to the channel this year. Just like the flux capacitor is what makes time travel possible, Touch Portal is what allows me to use my old iPhone 5c as a makeshift Elgato Streamdeck so that i can switch between all these different camera views, and trigger on-screen animations like the Rules Gremlin, calls to action to subscribe and join the Discord server and so on, and then to shoot out to external Powershell scripts to do funky junk like register people on the Player Picker 9000, or to launch an ad hoc poll in the middle of the stream.
It’s all been very experimental and creative and halfway broken, but when it works, it works beautifully! Touch Portal itself is a bit of a janky affair as well, and i’m eagerly awaiting updates to it so that i can get it to do more amazing things for me.
Ongoing and Miscellaneous Costs
There are a number of recurring costs to cover to keep things operational at Nights Around a Table.
i pay 66 Canuckbucks a month in hosting fees. The Adobe Creative Suite subscription runs about 800 dollars a year, but i’ve managed to negotiate that to somewhere between $400-600 these past two years running. i evaluated a music service called Epidemic Sound so that i could have royalty-free music playing during my streams, but they want $15/mo USD and their player inexplicably lacks “shuffle” and “repeat” buttons, so i’ve been curating songs from YouTube’s royalty free library to save a penny. i spent about 70 bucks on a great collection of animations to spice up my videos and streams – hopefully you’ll see more of those going forward.
New Board Games
Finally, what would a run-down of annual costs for a board game channel be without detailing the new games that i purchased for the Nights Around a Table library, with the hope of covering them in the future?
The patrons pooled their pennies in December 2020 to collectively buy me a gift: a certificate for Board Game Bliss, one of the best board game stores in Canada. While i was free to spend it as i wished, they strongly recommended i consider Xia: Legends of a Drift System. i’m glad i did! Xia has since shot to the top of my list of Best New-to-Me Board Games of 2021 list. i enjoyed it so much that i couldn’t resist buying all of the expansion content for it as soon as it was back in stock.
Black Angel was a gift from DMExplains in 2021. Sadly, the How to Play Black Angel video bombed (1.6k views, $11.70 in ad revenue, 72 hours of labour), but while i was working on it, i decided to pick up its predecessor Troyes, which was becoming increasingly harder to find. Who knows if a Troyes video would garner more eyeballs? i’m not sure i want to spend another 72 hours finding out.
Bring on the expansions! My Achilles heel is buying expansions that i never get to play with people beacuse they’re unfamiliar with the base game — we end up playing the OG and never get around to the expansion. COVID has exacerbated that, to the point where we can’t even play the BASE game together any more, so these things sit collecting dust.
i accidentally bought Escape to Canyon Brook, thinking it was the first expansion to Oh My Goods!. Turns out it was the second, and i waited for what felt like an eternity for Bliss to re-stock Longsdale in Revolt, the actual first expansion. Now i have both, and i haven’t played either. 🙂 i’m hoping i can cover them in an upcoming developer spotlight on unfortunately-named designer Alexander Pfister.
i bought the first Wingspan expansion for Cheryl for Christmas in 2020, and due to some crossed wires with Stonemaier Games, i requested the second expansion and wound up with multiple copies of Pendulum. i haven’t touched the Wingspan expansions yet, because i have two inserts from Folded Space and Laserox, and i want to 3d print an insert and then do a “Wood vs Foam Core vs PLA” insert showdown video… but i have to get it done before Stonemaier releases their Wingspan Big Empty Box for Dumb Dummies that’s intended to hold future, unreleased expansions.
i feel i showed incredible restraint in backing only two Kickstarter campaigns this year. The cost of shipping and delays on top of that made me a little gunshy of Kickstarter, and now that the platform is going full crypto, i’ll probably avoid them all together. (To paraphrase the immortal Kirk Lazarus, “you never go full crypto.”) i hope that doesn’t sound like i’m biting the hand that feeds me, since the largest revenue stream i have at the moment is making commissioned preview videos for Kickstarter campaigns. But my hope is that some other platform — possibly Gamefound — will serve the needs of board game crowdfunding so that we don’t have to burn the planet down running up electrical costs for currency farming to save a certain corporation from government regulation.
Anyway, here’s what i backed:
i grabbed Maracaibo from the awesome ding & dent section at Meeple Mart in Toronto, which is packed with truly terrible games, but where every so often you’ll find a gem. Policy at the store is that if a pallet full of games gets dinged or dented, the store gets a price reduction on the delivery, and then passes those savings on to its customers… even if the damage only affected a few copies of the game! i’m hoping to include Maracaibo in this year’s Pfister Pfest developer spotlight.
Likewise, a few months later, i found a discounted copy of Through the Ages in the ding & dent section. i think it was a smart purchase, since it feaures TWICE on the Board Game Geek Top 100 list at the moment (the current version, and the first edition). i hope i can work it into a developer spotlight on Vlaada Chvátil later this year.
Again, with a mind towards making it the pfunnest Pfister Pfest imaginable, i was delighted to pick up a copy of his Monster Expedition on a deep discount at 401 Games. Monster Expedition is a sequel to a game called Carnival of Monsters (not designed by Pfister) that i’ve been curious about for some time, because the artwork is super cool! i didn’t strictly spend your money on them, but i also acquired copies of Pfister’s Blackout: Hong Kong and Tybor the Builder in a math trade towards the end of the year.
Speaking of developer spotlights, NAaT patron and frequent livestream moderator Omelet tipped me off that Mind Games, which typically has bonkers-high prices on games, was selling off Glass Road at a reasonable price, so i bought their copy and featured it in a new experimental show format called Pláyjà Vu for Uwe Rosenberg Month 2021.
Back at Meeple Mart, i picked up the much-lauded 2 player board game Targi, and since it was priced to sell, i grabbed the expansion while i was at it. i played it on a livestream against you, the audience.
i bought 1313 Dead End Drive for about 5 bucks at a thrift store called Value Village, thinking it was some sort of vintage find. i was dismayed to see brand new copies of it at a toy store a few weeks later. To add insult to injury, my copy was even missing a few pieces. i wanted to play it on a livestream around Hallowe’en, and it turned out to be my most disastrous show to date. i wound up just unboxing the above-mentioned copy of Maracaibo, which had remained in shrink all year, and constantly loomed as the “in case of emergency, unbox Maracaibo” contingency plan. i told a few personal stories which people kindly claimed to appreciate.
The patrons pulled through again this Christmas, pooling their money for another batch of gift certificates from Bliss. Omelet personally delivered a copy of Obsession, which has whipped the Discord members into a frenzy in recent months. i spent a portion of the gift certificates on the game’s expansions, and did a playthru with Cheryl on New Year’s Eve.
It’s no secret that the biggest draw of board games, apart from all the glamorous and good-looking people, is that it creates a socially acceptable excuse to sit around eating snacks all night.
i endevaoured to make snack time an integral feature of each Nights Around a Table livestream, and not just any snacks will do: i have scoured the globe for the most thematic, most interesting, and most stomach-churning chunks of God-knows-what i can fit into my mouth, and the mouths of my unwitting guests. This year featured such memorable fare as S’moresels, Root Beer Mike & Ikes, Chili Cheese Fritos (Ryan’s favourite), Turkish Delight, pickle in a bag, snowballs, assorted hot sauce, tea, jellied tongue, and of course, imitation fossilized Viking poo.
The snack cupboard was restocked over Christmas with help from a specialty candy store near NAaT HQ, which will soon bring us (among other things) atomic sour balls and rapper-themed ramen. Look for a new website feature this year called Snack or Wack? that will help you keep track of which snacks are, and are not, worth eating while you play. (Spoiler alert: Ryan does not look favourably upon tea. Dirty, dirty tea.)
Adding it All Up
Those of you who are more math-minded than i am might be thinking to yourselves “Okay… he pulls in about $200/month through Patreon, which comes out to $2400/year. But all this stuff totals way more than $2400.” And you’d be correct. i think. i’ll have to take your word for it.
The fact is that when i started devoting myself to Nights Around a Table in late 2017 as bid to carve out a living as a… whatever i am (i don’t like the term “content creator” at all, as it’s a gross artifact of late-stage capitalism… by the way, please click these Amazon links) …i knew that Rome wouldn’t be built in a day. Or even a year. i was in it for the long haul.
How long is the long haul? i wanted to see what i could do in five years. And now, ladies and gentlemen, as we begin 2022, Nights Around a Table has officially entered its fifth year of operations. And the official tally is that this past year, i turned my full-time, Monday to Friday (and often evenings and weekends) into an annual income somewhere south of $10k.
This is the point where i say “i couldn’t have done it without you.” And it’s true! i couldn’t! i don’t want to seem ungrateful in the slightest. But if i’m going to turn this ship around and nudge my efforts further into the black and… and, you know… really make something of myself, to avoid spending my Autumn years enduring the sweat and toil of the salt mines, wearing pants no less, i’m going to have to sit and focus on increasing these five core revenue streams (in order from most to least lucrative): commissioned videos, YouTube ad revenue share, Patreon contributions, Twitch revenue from subscriptions and cheers, and — new to 2022 — merchandising!
i have a few ideas of how to get from here to there, and if you’re a patron, you know you have my ear in the special 🗳-suggestion_box-🗳 channel on the Discord server. i’ll publish a video or a post soon telling you about all the things i’m looking forward to accomplishing in the new year, including a complete refresh of the Patreon campaign, featuring more and better backer rewards.
So take off your pants, bang some pots, kick over some furniture, and consider the mental health of trains as we chug along into a bold new year of lots more fun with your Nights Around a Table! And thank you!!
If you haven’t yet taken the plunge and joined my crew, you can do it for as little as $1, but then everyone will laugh at you. At $3 monthly, you’ll get to hang with all the cool kids and their orange nametags on the amazing Discord server, where people will ask how your aging pets are doing while trouncing you in an Agricola tournament on Board Game Arena. It’s a good time. And if you are blessed enough to contribute more than $3, your name changes to different colours, and i reveal that this entire time, i’ve had a crush on you. Join the Patreon campaign today, and i look forward to having you on the crew in 2022!