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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 U TOTALLY KNOW: i’m what the boomers would call “unemployed”! Any work that you generate for yourself that isn’t a cradle-to-grave grind with a pension (that will eventually be clawed back by your company five years after you retire) doesn’t count as actual “work,” of course. But you and i — us cool kids? — we know better, don’t we? We know about such hep things as the Gig Economy and grape-flavoured vaping. We know that self-employed internet hosts like me can scrounge together a few pennies from Patreon subscriptions, Twitch subs and Bits, YouTube ad revenue and Superchat tips, Amazon Associates commissions, and gift donations.

Every year, i like to give a rough accounting of where your money went if you saw fit to chuck me some bucks, so that you don’t think i’ve been squirreling it away in the ol’ banana stand this whole time. Here are the ways in which i maintained or improved Nights Around a Table thanks to viewers like you.

New Costumes

Have jammies, don’t travel. It’s rare that i’m spotted without my trusty flannel softpants and a black t-shirt (which i’m told picks up lint on camera like Tony Montana in a snow squall, so maybe it’s time to rethink that). Still, every so often i feel the urge to accessorize to make my videos marginally more thematic and interesting. Here’s what i picked up:

Nights Around a Table - hippie glasses

i actually bought TWO pairs of these costume hippie glasses from Amazon. i spraypainted one gold and wore it near the beginning of the year when i dressed up as the Mystic during our livestream of Lost Ruins of Arnak: Expedition Leaders. i wore the second pair when i dressed up as a Sigmund Freud contemporary for my How to Play video for Unconscious Mind on Rahdo’s channel:

Nights Around a Table - Lost Ruins of Arnak Expedition Leaders - the Final Showdown
Nights Around a Table - how to play Unconscious Mind video thumbnail
Nights Around a Table - My Father's Work Find the Fun thumbnail

i loathe the idea that i spent one red cent more on My Father’s Work than i had to, but a review of a game about mad science demanded a white lab coat. i try to buy costumes i think i’ll reuse. i can wear this when i talk about games featuring medicine or science, of which there are many. Out of control, unkempt lack-of-haircut not included.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to find a plastic hard hat for my How to Play Rolling Heights video for Rahdo’s channel. i began my search around Hallowe’en in Toronto costume shops in 2021, and they were consistently sold out. i finally found this flimsy plastic one that looks the part (but do NOT wear it on an active construction site!)

Nights Around a Table - Everdell live playthru
Nights Around a Table - Sea of Legends playthru video thumbnail

Once again, my faux-leather pirate tricorn proved to be my most sound costume investment. Purchased in 2020 with your money, i’ve worn it in a good gaggle of videos, including this years’ playthru of Sea of Legends, which turned up multiple times in our list of Top 10 Favourite Board Games of All Time (part 1 and part 2). Merchants & Marauders, you have been dethroned!

New Bits!

2022 saw the release of two more Bits, Please! episodes.

Nights Around a Table - Bits, Please! logo

The first was a tutorial about how to easily cut pieces you download from Thingiverse or other free sites down to size to fit a smaller 3d printer bed, all in service of printing an insert for A Feast for Odin.

The second aimed to teach viewers how to remove or emboss text in 3d models in Blender, using Praga Caput Regni and On Mars as examples.

Nights Around a Table - A Feast for Odin 3d printed insert - Bits, Please!
Nights Around a Table - How to Remove Offensive Text from 3D Models for Printing Board Game Inserts

As usual, my Bits, Please! episode output this year was slower than i would have liked. But this stuff takes time! And talk about time-consuming: a very exciting development came about in late summer, when a company that manufactures laser cutters approached me about doing a video in exchange for a free machine. i agreed to have a video out within 2 weeks of receiving the gear. What followed was a series of seemingly endless trips to Home Depot to buy plywood, dowels, and various pieces of hvac venting so that i could safely operate the machine indoors, after technical difficulties stalled me and my Canadian garage grew too cold to work in. The whole adventure will be recapped in a new episode early this year, which i’m very, very excited to show you.

This was also the year that, motivated by a powerful urge to eventually paint those Sea of Legends miniatures, i primed every mini in my entire board game collection.

Nights Around a Table - every mini in my board game collection primed black
Nights Around a Table - every mini in my board game collection primed white - zenithal priming

i used Citadel Chaos Black and Corax White rattle cans, but they’re quite a spicy way to spend your money at 22 canuckbucks a pop. i primed some other minis later using Rustoleum Hobo Black and Wino White, and while the results weren’t quite as nice, they were an acceptable trade-off for the (your) money spent.

Nights Around a Table - Army Painter Speedpaints Mega Set

It wasn’t your money, but my mom’s, that went into a birthday present of this Army Painter Speedpaint Mega Set, which was all the talk at GenCON this year. These paints are supposed to require fewer passes on a model by mimicking wash, base, and highlight layers all in one go. We’ll see! i may give them a whirl in their own episode.

Nights Around a Table - custom Scythe airships by Meeple Forge

My painting adventures took me back into the Scythe Legendary Box (aka the Big Dumb Box for Dumb Dummies, a completely empty cardboard box that stores your various Scythe expensives), where i remembered what a bummer it was that the Wind Gambit airships were all the same model. And then i rememebered that a board game upgrade shop on Etsy called MeepleForge had some amazing airship models that were unique to each faction. i approached them about featuring their airships in an upcoming Bits, Please! video, and had fantastic results printing their ships with Siraya Tech Fast White resin. Use the code NIGHTSAROUNDATABLE on their Etsy shop for 10% off your order!

(Pictured in background behind ships: An Age Contrived, a commission i’m working on for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign)

Nights Around a Table - airbrush booth

Finally, some extremely generous patrons repaid a favour by buying me an entire airbrush studiobooth, brush, compressor — the whole nine!  i want to be secretive about the details so i can tell you more in the upcoming episode, but just know that 2023 should be a great year for Bits, Please!, with laser cutting and mini painting and airbrushing and Lord knows what else, as i make or modify pieces for Scythe, Tzolk’in, Everdell, Underwater Cities, and Food Chain Magnate.

If you’re into all this crafty stuff, or your like the idea of dressing your board games in their Sunday best, check out the Nights Around a Table Discord Server, where we have a #3d-printing channel and — new as of 2022 — a #projects channel, where you can talk about what you’re up to. And, as always, you can share pictures of your stuff (or your board game plays, or something lovely you discovered while hiking) in the extremely active #photography channel. Here’s one of the very best photos taken and shared there by Nights Around a Table patron, hiker, and hobbyist photographer Andrionni Ribo:

Pools - Andrionni Ribo

And here’s a lovely boat pic by professional photographer (and NAaT patron) Michael Backes:

Boat picture by Michael Backes

But don’t let those photos intimidate you! Here’s one from the channel of me being an idiot.

Nights Around a Table - Ryan wins at Distilled

Share whatever you like, as long as it’s not a pic of your junk. We’re happy to have you.

New (and Unfortunately Old) Gear

i made very few new gear purchases this year, because the stuff i have generally works. i shoot everything on an iPhone, and this year, Cheryl’s contract came up and she was elligible for an upgrade. She always gives me the new device and takes the second-newest phone instead, enabling me to use the newest phone’s improved camera in the studio. So in 2023, Nights Around a Table will be shot with an iPhone 13. i did take the extra step of buying a lens protector, as the iPhone 11 got a nick in the lens that you couldn’t see in filmed content, but it was enough to put the fear of God in me.

Nights Around a Table - iPhone 13 lens protector

i knew that i was going to hit at least two conferences in 2022, and i knew that i needed to somehow justify my free press pass to each one, so i got it in my head to do ENG-style streeter interviews with conference goers. i didn’t have a stick-style microphone that could do the job, so i picked up this set from Comica:

Nights Around a Table - Comica wireless microphone
Nights Around a Table - Comica wireless receiver

The thing on the left is the wireless handheld microphone. On the right is the wireless receiver, which also comes with a lavalier mic. i definitely wanted the mic to be branded, so i bought one of these mic flags for it:

Mic flags

(“Mic flag,” by the way, is absolutely a term you don’t know until you actually need to buy the thing. It took a long while to actually find one because i didn’t know what it was called!)  i also wanted an interesting wind screen to dress it up. i found this Muppety multi-pack:

microphone wind screens

Here is the wirless mic + flag + windscreen in action, while the gimbal that Rahdo donated to me stabilizes the camera, and Cheryl monitors the audio with a fancy pair of Bose headphones that we bought years ago with our own dough:

2022 was the year that my best piece of gear, my trusty ZOOM H4n Pro, said its final goodbye. It took a tumble off my table and landed on its already strained usb port. i dismantled it, hoping to be able to solder on a new port, but it was beyond my capabilities.

Nights Around a Table - attempted Zoom H4n Pro repair

Happily, a handful of NAaT supporters came to the rescue! They chipped in unbidden and tossed some pennies into my PayPal account, sending me enough to completely replace the unity (and then some). i was absolutely humbled by their generosity.

Nights Around a Table - new ZOOM h4N Pro

It may be worth noting that this device is so good that i bought an identical unit, despite there being newer models on the market!

Exposing Myself

Easily the biggest expenditure of the year was the trip we took to GenCON in Indianapolis. i draw down Patreon contributions twice a year to avoid getting dinged with huge payment processing fees: once in August, and once again in December. So we thew all of the Patreon pledges from January through August at the trip! That means you patrons covered off gas and lodging for GenCON. The conference itself granted us press passes, and we only had to pay for food. Thanks, patrons!

Because this would be the first time exporting ourselves, we needed business materials. We ordered this trifold to help sell our services to the publishers at the con, and it became an critical sales tool:

And we ordered the first-ever NAaT business cards! We made two different styles: a B2B card with my contact info on them, and another that we could give to people who said “Nights Around a Table? Never heard of you.”  Oh, no?  Well, here’s a card with the seven different sites we’ve been on for the past five years! Ca-CHOOM!

(the colours look a little off because these are print-friendly CMYK values)

We shot a bunch more streeters at GenCON using the wireless mic and gimbal setup. i’m still editing those segments. Look for them on the channel early in 2023! i booked four commissioned projects at the show, two of which have already aired on the channel, with the final two on the way soon.

Nights Around a Table - how to play Paperback Adventures video thumbnail
Nights Around a Table - How to play Saboteur: the Dark Cave board game video thumnail

Merchandise

Wait a sec… merchandise? Since when was there Nights Around a Table merchandise? Well, i made it a goal for 2022 to experiment with merch. i surprised the patrons in attendance at GenCON with NAaT T-shirts and stickers, all homebrewed on an inkjet printer. This was all extremely last-minute, admittedly. Rain and sweat caused the T-shirts to peel and dissolve, while the stickers caused everyone’s skin to blister and fizzle. We lost four good patrons that day.

The lesson learned was that merch may be desirable, but i should probably go with an experienced manufacturer before i make it more widely available. So (better) merch is still on the docket for 2023.

New Board Games

In past years, patrons and supporters of the channel have pooled their pennies to buy me gift certificates for my FLGS. They’ve often followed these donations up with helpful suggestions about which games to spend the money on 🙂 This was an odd year, because i think everyone knew my board game shelves have reached maximum capacity, and that i either need to start making some hard culling decisions (or build an addition to the house to store moar gaymes).

Still, many (many) games found their way into my collection in 2022, and a large number of them were actually donated by publishers. But these are the ones i actually spent money on. Your money, to be exact.

Nights Around a Table - On Mars upgrade pack

First, there was the matter of spending 2021’s Christmas gift certificates. i convinced myself i needed this upgrade pack for the excellent On Mars.

Nights Around a Table - Hadrian's Wall

Of all the games i purchased with these certificates, Hadrian’s Wall has certainly enjoyed the most plays. It’s a big, hairy roll n’ write game where you get two huge sheets of paper to check off and bounce around as your brain lights up with all these fantastic chain reaction combos. Recommended by my patrons. They have excellent taste. Garphill Games helped us out by supplying some high resolution artwork from the game, and we’re working on a How to Play video for it.

Nights Around a Table - The Search for Planet X

i always get annoyed when i buy a game that people have hyped up, and then i realize it was covered by Shut Up & Sit Down, the likely source of that hype. SUSD did recommend Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective to me, which i loved, but they also dumped on Scythe, which i also love. So i’m not sure what to think. i didn’t get The Search for Planet X to the table all year, because Cheryl doesn’t typically enjoy space themes, and one member of my regular game group was unwowed by it and isn’t keen to play it again.

Nights Around a Table - Treasure Island, Revenge Island, and Pirate's Mark

i burned a good chunk of the certs buying the absolutely beautiful Treasure Island and then chased down its expansion, Captain Silver – Revenge Island, AND its second “expansion” Pirate’s Mark, which is really just a UV ink marker. We only played the game once, but i found it a lot of fun, and a completely unique entry in my collection. It’s a 1 vs many hunt for Long John Silver. Players collectively draw on a dry erase map to narrow down Silver’s whereabouts before he escapes. It’s illustrated by Vincent Dutrait, one of my favourite board game artists. The UV pen lets you draw a series of secret marks on the board for added intrigue and fun. It’s even more fun if you’re a five-year-old like me, and those secret marks look suspiciously like dongs.

Nights Around a Table - Terra Mystica Automa Solo Box

The Terra Mystica Big Box came out in 2022, which includes everything i already own, except for this solo mode expansion that i bought with certs, and then put to the test in a Terra Mystica Solo livestream. i quite liked the solo mode, and would definitely play it again. i recommend it if you’re like me, and you enjoy the game but can’t find anyone to play it with you.

Nights Around a Table - Ark Nova zoo board game

i think the certs had run out by the time my FLGS finally received its copies of Ark Nova, one of which i pounced on after hearing such great things about it. Then like most Canadians who paid full price, i was mortified to find that seasonal retailer Calendar Club was unloading copies of it on Boxing Day this year for ten dollars apiece. Oof! The game definitely plays longer than i’d like it to, and it could benefit from better components (what’s with that hideous coffee cup?) But we have played and enjoyed it quite a lot, so we’ve extracted an acceptable amount of value from it. i spent an embarrassing amount of time and effort this year upgrading my copy with a 3d printed insert and some tiny rubber animals that cost me more than the actual game, which will be the focus of an upcoming episode of Bits, Please!

Nights Around a Table - Xia: Legends of a Drift System board game cover

Speaking of embarrassing, everyone lost they damned minds when Capstone announced they were offering these bonus boards for Ark Nova at GenCON a few days before the conference started. And the word “board” is generous: these are about as thicc as Kate Moss squeezing sideways through a door crack.  i was among the frothing masses who snatched one up for… TEN DOLLARS?  American?? For a single board?? i don’t even know any more, you guys. The kicker was that a few weeks after i returned home from GenCON, my FLGS had the boards for sale for $10 Canadian, and i wouldn’t have had to drive to Indianapolis to get them.

Nights Around a Table - Scout card game

Scout is a simple little card game with a hook that might remind you of Bohnanza: you can’t rearrange your hand. It’s great fun and easy to teach. Recommended by my patrons, and rightly so. We got to play it together at GenCON.

Nights Around a Table - Dale of Merchants Complete

No, wait: i wasn’t quite out of gift certificate money until i decided to spend it (and then some) on Dale of Merchants, which i had been eyeing for years. i went bonkers getting every animal on offer from the game’s three standalone expansions, along with its bonus beaver pack. By the time your’re done sleeving all the cards, they don’t all fit into the Big Dumb Box for Dumb Dummies you get with the Collection expansion. This is the only purchase where i have a bit of buyer’s remorse. We’ve played the game a few times, and we’re not convinced the myriad card powers actually do anything useful (eg “Play this card to look at the bottom card of an opponent’s draw deck.”  Who cares??), and we’re left with the feeling that just gunning for points with your head down is the best approach to playing, which would mean it’s not a very interesting deck builder.

Nights Around a Table - Detective: City of Angels + Bullets Over Hollywood + Smoke and Mirrors expansions

i have been waiting an age for Detective: City of Angels (illustrated, once again, by Vincent Dutrait — this man sells games!) to be restocked at Board Game Bliss, but it never came. Then one day in 2022, someone on a Facebook group who lives near me posted that he had the base game and its two expansions for sale, still in shrink.

Nights Around a Table - Star Wars: Outer Rim and Unfinished Business expansion

On top of that, he had Star Wars: Outer Rim and its expansion, Unfinished Business, also still in shrink! i’ve had eyes on Outer Rim ever since someone described it to me as the best sandbox pirate board game. i wondered if these copies had “fallen off the back of a truck,” so to speak, but the seller told me he just couldn’t find time to play them with his friends. So i drove to the guy’s house and traded him a very fair amount of money for all the games, particularly considering their unavailability. At the time of writing… they remain new in shrink.

Nights Around a Table - Detective: City of Angels Chisel Screen

This, however, was probably one of the most extravagant purchases i made all year, and i still feel like an idiot for it. In Detective: City of Angels, one player is sort of the DM, who the game calls the “Chisel.” The Chisel controls all the suspects while the players question them. This is 16 canuckbucks for a cardboard DM screen to hide the Chisel’s machinations. i hope it’s worth it. (It likely isn’t.)

Nights Around a Table - Detective: City of Angels Cloak & Daggered expansion

Dammit, Facebook seller! i thought you said those were all the expansions in the series? Apparently not. So i “had” to grab this one. Now i think my collection is complete, which means Jesus will surely reward me in Heaven.

Nights Around a Table - Wingspan Nesting Box

Late in the year, Stonemaier games sent out an email selling their Big Dumb Nesting Box for Dumb Dummies (an empty box meant to hold Wingspan and all of its expansions), bundled with a copy of the new Wingspan: Asia expansion. i have been waiting on the Nesting Box for months, because i’m sitting on review copies of foam core and wooden Wingspan inserts, and i thought it would be a fun video to compare the merits of those against a 3d printed plastic insert. But then when i heard the Nesting Box was on its way, i thought i’d better produce that video quickly, or else no one will care (because the inserts don’t hold everything like the Nesting Box does). But THEN i got a chance to see the Nesting Box prototype at GenCON, and the Stonemaier people told me that any existing insert you were already using will fit inside the Nesting Box to help store components. So my insert comparison video was back on the menu, and it made more sense to wait until i got my hands on a Nesting Box. But thennnn the email went out, and the Nesting Box + Asia bundle sold out that same afternoon (and my email went into my “Promos” tab anyway), so i was out of luck. At last, Stonemaier announced a second printing, so i coughed up my (your) money to secure a copy, which should arrive in February — sans Asia expansion.

Nights Around a Table - Wingspan: Asia expansion

(So, of course, i had to then buy the Asia expansion.)

Nights Around a Table - Tekhenu; Time of Seth expansion

i fell totally in love with Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun, and i tracked down the hard-to-find Time of Seth expansion for it. Publisher Board & Dice has shared high-res graphics of the game with me, and i’ve been working on a very special How to Play video for the base game.

Nights Around a Table - Board & Dice Loot Box 1

i showed a great deal of purchasing restraint at GenCON (many publishers gave me review copies of their games, which quelled my urges), but i grabbed the Board & Dice Loot Box 1 at their booth because it said something about Tekhenu on the back.

Nights Around a Table - Scythe Complete Rulebook

i also picked up a Scythe Complete Rulebook at the show, which made me content complete on Scythe (apart from those absolutely overboard metal mechs), so i felt pretty good about that.

Nights Around a Table - Turczi Junior Promo Pack

Similarly, i feel i showed a good deal of crowdfunding restraint this year, backing only one project (from a formerly supportive publisher who has ghosted me for some weird reason, so i’d prefer not to name them). When known punk David Turczi announced that he’d bred, and wanted money to feed to his hell-spawned progeny, i reluctantly obliged – but only because he was reprinting the one piece of Trickerion: Legends of Illusion i don’t already own. Also, it includes an expansion for Tekhenu that has cats in it.

Nights Around a Table - Caverna water promo

i got right snookered on this one, gang. i’ve been wanting to complete my version of Caverna for a long time, especially after my eldest took an interest, but the promos were just so darned expensive. And the longer they were in the wild, becoming ever more scarce, they weren’t getting any cheaper! Towards Christmas, when coin purses are a-flappin’, i decided to finally bite the bullet.

Nights Around a Table - Caverna water promo

Now, take a look at this eBay listing and tell me what you think you’re getting. Me? i read it as $18.99 + $14.85 USD (ouch!) for the water promo, the halflings promo, and the adventurers promo. That’s 46 canuckbucks — well on the way to being half the cost of Caverna proper. So i clicked “Buy it Now,” and what did i receive?  Just the water promo on its own. Are you as confused as i am? Scan the listing again, and look for the drop-down field, where you are supposed to choose one of those three promos. (The other two are sold out, and i already own one of them — i planned to resell my duplicate — so i’m lucky a promo i didn’t already own was chosen as the default). Sigh. i do try to be a good steward of your cash, but sometimes eBay happens.

Snaaaaaaaaaaaaaacks!

Nights Around a Table - Sour Big Chewy Nerds

The Snack or Wack? feature that i promised you last year didn’t come to fruition. But while at GenCON, i learned about these new Sour Big Chewy Nerds that were the talk of the town. i found some closer to home (at $4.99 a bag?? EGADS) and after eating them, i can tell you this: i am shocked that they only cost $4.99 a bag, for i would pay far, far more.

Something Doesn’t Add Up

In last year’s How i Spent Your Money post, i shocked and dismayed some of you by revealing that my gross income from all sources — Patreon, YouTube ads, Twitch, and donations — was somewhere south of $10k. i called 2022 a “make or break” year for the channel — a year to see if i could make an honest living at this, to achieve a number that would meet boomer approval.

Nights Around a Table 2022

i produced 59 videos in 2022, many with the help of my wife Cheryl, who livestreamed playthrus with me most Tuesday afternoons. The green-bordered thumbnails in the image above are videos that aired on Rahdo’s channel. That was the big difference this year: i took many more commissioned projects — eight on Rahdo’s channel, and five more on my own, so just over 1 commission every month. The compensation from those projects helped me more than double my take from last year. That’s a great story to tell in terms of growth, but (i admit) still not a great story in terms of you’re an adult man with a family to consider.

What’s more, i felt that a lot of the content we produced for the channel this year took a back seat to the commissioned work. We did playthrus because they were a lower time commitment (and so much of my week was eaten up making paid vids). Those playthrus mostly resulted in hours-long snoozefest VODs that may have been easy to edit and toss up just to keep the algorithm happy, but i don’t know how watchable they actually were – especially after the fact on YouTube, when the performance was no longer live and the interactions with viewers were all in the can.  So while i’m proud of the paid work i did this year, i’m less excited about the unpaid work i produced, and i am taking steps to improve that.

One of those steps is to introduce a brand new livestream show that should be far more entertaining than a straight playthru of a board game. Each stream will take more time and effort to set up, but they will also only run for about an hour, which will make them easier to edit and upload, and more enjoyable to watch. Look for that new format in 2023.

i also plan to ease up on my “one video per week or die!” regimen, just to see what the channel looks like if i focus more on quality than quantity. That means trying to release a How to Play video for a popular game every two weeks, rather than rushing a playthru to the channel every week, and not being afraid of patrons dropping their support due to a decrease in frequency. i dunno. We’ll see. i’m just blogging out loud here. It seems like all the other successful channels got where they are today because of quantity, and who am i to reinvent the wheel?

Ryan Henson Creighton

i’m Ryan Flippin’ Creighton – that’s who! i’m forging my own path! Woo! Suck it, hippies!

If you’ve been along for the ride and are supporting me on Patreon or by some other means (here’s a list of ideas, both free and not-free), let me thank you deeply. i’m not quite where i need to be yet, but 2022 showed that it may be possible to finally get there. Here’s to beginning the sixth year of operations at Nights Around a Table!

If you haven’t yet taken the plunge and joined my crew, you can do it for as little as $1, but you’ll probably feel the teensiest bit guilty about being such an incorrigible miser. At $3 monthly, you’ll get an orange nametag on the Discord server, and you can avail yourself of our new #mental_health channel, where we share our feelings with each other and confess our questionable financial decisions. If you are blessed enough to contribute more than $3, your name changes to different colours. You may even receive a Christmas card, if i remember to write one in time. Join the Patreon campaign today, and i look forward to having you on the crew in 2023!