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Nights Around a Table How to Play video banner

The main event on the Nights Around a Table channel are Ryan’s How to Play videos, which employ extensive editing, title cards, stop-motion animation, and on-screen call-outs to clearly and accurately teach and explain board game rules.

Let the Rules Gremlin clear things up


Nights Around a Table - the Rules Gremlin

Forged in the fires of Heck, this pointy-eared cleric of clarity shows up whenever a particular rule in a board game is unintuitive, misleading, or likely to cause confusion. The Rules Gremlin helps viewers spot the gotchas that might prevent them from playing a game properly.

Watch the complete How to Play series now!

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How to Play videos are free from editorial, but our Find the Fun review series are your chance to hear Ryan’s well-reasoned takes on popular board games. In each Find the Fun video, Ryan applies his expertise as a game designer to tease out the most enjoyable and frustrating aspects of a given board game.


The Scales of Funstice Have Spoken

Nights Around a Table - Find the Fun - the Scales of FunsticeEach Find the Fun video ends with Ryan weighing out the Fun and Not Fun aspects of a board game, using two physical objects as proxies. Just like they do in the Egyptian afterlife, the Scales of Funstice determine the weight of a game’s worth, and enable Ryan to pronounce a sound (and scientifically irrefutable) verdict.



Watch the complete Find the Fun series now!

Nights Around a Table Setup and The Deal banner

These two video types are excerpted from the longer How to Play videos. Each How to Play video begins with a synopsis section, which is repurposed as The Deal, and ends with a setup guide, which is spun out into its own Setup video series, for players who already know how to play and just want to see where all the pieces go.

Watch all Setup & The Deal episodes now!

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Unboxing videos are Ryan at his unscripted best, cracking the shrink on board games he usually knows very little about (but has bought anyway). These videos are a chance for Ryan to geek out with you about all things board game.


Only one video series features the Box Fart-O-Meter. (Thank goodness.)


Nights Around a Table Box Fart-O-MeterA breakthrough in modern engineering, the Box Fart-O-Meter is a high-tech piece of precision equipment that measures the fart-like noise output of board game box when it is opened. Scientifically accurate to 1.37 fartecs, the Box Fart-O-Meter is exclusive to Nights Around a Table Unboxing videos, bringing audiophonic transparency and peace of mind to your purchasing decisions.

Watch the complete Unboxing series now!

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Nights Around a Table - The Secret Life of Board Games masthead image

The Secret Life of Board Games reveals the hidden easter eggs, in-jokes, behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt and references that designers and artists have sneakily tucked away inside your favourite board games! Each episode is based on interviews with well-known designers, including Tom Lehmann (Race for the Galaxy, Res Arcana), Donald X. Vaccarino (Dominion), and Paul Dennen (Clank!).

Watch The Secret Life of Board Games now!

Nights Around a Table - Board Games 101 banner

Class is now in session, as “Professor” Ryan mansplains board game terminology and game mechanics to bewildered beginners – or to graduates who like to audit the course just to make sure they already know all the material on the syllabus. Enroll now to earn your phB… in board games.*

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*Nights Around a Table is not an accredited educational institution. This disclosure statement is made in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

Watch the complete Board Games 101 series now!

Nights Around a Table - Bits, Please! banner

“Step up to the lab… and see what’s on the slDAMMIT! That flippin’ doohickey just snapped off!”

Nights Around a Table - Bits, Please! logo

Bits, Please! chronicles the trials and tribulations of one man trying to spruce up his board game collection with 3D printed inserts, painted miniatures, metal coins, card sleeves, wooden tree standees, working treasure chests, fun fur, and whatever other puppety nonsense he can dream up. But things never go as planned, and the cost of having a beautifully overproduced board game is your sanity.

Watch the complete Bits, Please! series now!

Why put Setup at the end of a How to Play video?

Some viewers may wonder why the Setup section appears at the end of our How to Play videos, since certain top-tier YouTube channels begin their instructional videos with setup.

Setup belongs dead last a How to Play video, if it appears in the video at all. There is no other product on Earth that someone would introduce by telling you how to assemble it! (And yes, that includes Lego!)

We want to get viewers interested in a board game. We deliberately relegate Setup to the end, and focus first on answering these three questions in an attractive flyover shot: 

  • who do you and your friends get to be?
  • where/when is the game set?
  • what do you need to do in order to win?

How to Play videos are largely for prospective customers, rather than existing customers. Viewers interested in setup can either skip to the end of the How to Play video using either the scrub bar or the timecode links that we provide in the YouTube description, or by watching our separate Setup video for that game. Leaving setup til the end is a hallmark of Nights Around a Table; it’s one way we aim to provide a superior board game video experience.

Ryan likes

  • pirate and sci fi games
  • beautiful, stylized artwork
  • high production values
  • player interaction
  • complexity
  • worker placement games, deck-builders that use dice or tokens instead of cards, tableau-builders, word games, and party games with humour as a focus

Ryan doesn’t like

  • tile placement games
  • war games
  • player elimination
  • multiplayer solitaire
  • dungeon crawlers
  • minis
  • tacked-on themes
  • amateur artwork
  • flimsy game components

Check out Ryan’s personal board game collection and wishlist on!

Nights Around a Table - Tales from the Table blog

Come chat with Ryan!

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