Chess Stress

ESPN has an interesting article on the physical toll Chess Grand Masters go through.

“Grandmasters sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners,” Sapolsky says.

It all combines to produce an average weight loss of 2 pounds a day, or about 10-12 pounds over the course of a 10-day tournament in which each grandmaster might play five or six times. The effect can be off-putting to the players themselves, even if it’s expected. Caruana, whose base weight is 135 pounds, drops to 120 to 125 pounds. “Sometimes I’ve weighed myself after tournaments and I’ve seen the scale drop below 120,” he says, “and that’s when I get mildly scared.”



Finney: Whatcha playin there?

Brandon: Elementos, my dear Finney!


Brandon: What? At least I didn’t title this review “Elementos, my dear Watson”. Though, I still could…


Finney: How do you play?

Brandon: It takes only moments to learn, but a lifetime to master. You will think, at first, that you will be able to win easily. You will then assume that it’s like Tic Tac Toe and that the only winning move is not to play. Then you will realize that it is more challenging than chess, yet more fun than a family game night of Pit. Then..

Finney: Seriously, how do you play?

Brandon: Right. Sorry. It’s a two player game. Each player picks their color of these round elements pieces, black or white, and sets them up on their side of the board with three of each element showing.

Game set up

Finney: I see fire, water, and a tree. The wood element?

Brandon:  I guess. I hadn’t thought about it. 

Finney: What’s this?

Brandon: The wand! You place that in the center of your elements.

Finney: I bet the goal is to get your wand across to the other side of the board. And, the elements consume each other. Water consumes fire, fire consumes trees, trees drink the water! Hey, these are two sided. Can you flip them?

Brandon: Yes! And you can move the wand between your own pieces. Oh, and the piece with the wand in it can’t consume or be consumed. 

Finney: Let’s play!

A few games later…

Brandon: So, what do you think?

Finney: This is a fun game!

Brandon: What do you like about it?

Finney: It’s a great strategy game. It seems simple, and it can be if you want, but it’s also complex. The flipping of the pieces adds an extra layer of strategy.

Brandon: Yeah, I also found that flipping a piece over could really turn the tide of the game…

Finney: It’s also easy to pack and take with you. The box is the board! Other strategy games aren’t as portable.  And the art style on the game pieces and the box is straightforward and well executed. I don’t think it needs the exterior packaging.

Brandon: The little cardboard wrap?

Finney: Yep. 

Brandon: Yep. Also, we do have to talk about the one big problem. 

Finney: Oh yeah. I mean, they did address it in the instructions…

Brandon: They did, but still…

Finney: Still…

Brandon: Shall we delve into it?

Finney: Yeah, there might be a point where the players are just flipping the same two pieces over. Back and forth, back and forth. ‘My fire is now a tree!’

Brandon: ‘My water is now fire!’

Finney: The instructions say, basically, just don’t do that over and over and be reasonable. 

Brandon: That they do. 

Finney: I just wish there was a more specific rule about this. Maybe something like you can only flip the pieces 3 times when it’s clear that it’s just going to go back and forth like that. 

Brandon: Not much of a drawback though. Let’s go ahead and house rule that. Deal?

Finney: Deal.

Brandon: I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes light strategy games that offer deeper play should you want it. 

Finney: Me too! Let’s go again. 

You can buy Elementos at the Tyto website or at your Friendly Local Game Store.


Creating a Small Chess Set


Where Does the Time Go?

Brandon: Where does the time go? Well, teaching two music classes at the end of the school year, doctors appointments for the kids, family trips, new job coming up. It goes a lot of places. Looking back through the site, it’s been since February that I’ve posted here. Last time I posted it was about a Kickstarter by Jim Pinto and today is no different. Well, maybe a little. I’m going to ramble a bit and then give you the details.

What have I had time for that was not required of me? D&D. I’ve posted a lot about it’s impact on me here, here, and here. Dungeons and Dragons has also effected my family’s lives in other ways.  We are now painting minis and loving it. I may post more about that separately. Part of the point I’m getting to is that we have been busy and stressed. Gaming and it’s side activities have helped keep us focused. The last week of school we gamed every night and it was amazing.

Most of the rambling is done. Just one more point and then onto what I want to share. There is a lot going on in the world and gaming can be a way for us to come together and reset for awhile. So, I have two requests/suggestions.

First, donate to your local food charity. Mine is The Oregon Food Bank and I also donate to No Kid Hungry. Why? Because people need food and if you can help, you should. Second, you should back Jim Pinto’s newest Kickstarter, House of Keys. 

House of Keys is the first glimpse into a rich, new fantasy world — Iron Medusa. This world spins new legends and folklore while remaining rooted in Eastern European cultures. Here adventure finds you. House of Keys introduces that world through the lens of a doomed mansion infested with loathsome spirits where trapped adventurers have turned against one another in a fight for survival.

House of Keys focuses on psychological horror.


Protocol Fantasy Game Omnibus

Oh my! Jim Pinto of Postworld Games is up to something really good. We’ve covered Jim’s games before and have even spoken to him a few times here. Now he has the Protocol Fantasy Game Omnibus Kickstarter up.

From the Kickstarter:

The Kickstarter includes 15 fantasy games in one book, all using the same framework and rules. Five of these games have never been seen before, one of which will only ever be available in this book.

Stretch goals ensure that backers of this project receive additional free games, including the potential for more fantasy games in this book.

This is the perfect introduction to the Protocol game system. Players get 15 different games to start with, including fully explained rules, instead of the brushstroke guidelines in the $3 pdfs.

What we can tell you is that you definitely get your money’s worth when you back one of Postworld Games’ Kickstarters. Jim’s Kickstarters almost always go above and beyond their goals and so you get stretch goals galore!

A little more about the Protocol system:

The Protocol Game system is an elegant way of playing through a story without a gamemaster, in just a matter of two to three hours. Each game uses the same core principles of scene framing, while creating very different experiences through the use of roles, goals, relationships, and world building questions.

The alchemy behind why Protocol works is so simple.

Players take turns as directors, drawing poker cards to determine the scene’s focus and type. There are no dice. Everything is resolved with drama points and a single deck of poker cards.

Take a look and see if this is up your alley.


Podcast Ep 14: Black Monk Kickstarter

In this episode: Brandon speaks with Jim Pinto of Postworld Games about his new Kickstarter(Black Monk) Blade Runner, Baby Driver, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!

Black Monk Kickstarter:…axis-black-monk

Gondola at Big Kid Games:

Postworld Games at DriveThru RPG:…t-world-games/FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail

Podcast Ep: 13 Are You A Werewolf?

Brandon asks Tarehna about playing Are You A Werewolf? in a cabin in the woods! Spooky!
We also discuss cheese-filled peppers and Reuben bowls!
Email us at if you would like either of the recipes described in the podcast.


A Rambling Post About Dungeons & Dragons Part 3

Brandon: In Parts 1 and 2  I have stated how my interest in D&D was piqued. But now I can hear you asking, “Have you actually played yet, Brandon?”

Yes, yes I have.

It started with some very short and extremely homebrew games with my two children DMing (being the Dungeon Masters). If I remember correctly our oldest was about 8 or 9 at the time. That’s how old our youngest is right now and they have started to DM more. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We did some homebrew games at home as a family and then Tarehna created a birthday adventure for a friend of ours. This was all very fun, but I still didn’t feel like I was getting the full D&D experience. A lot of it was that I didn’t know enough about character creation and role playing or the game itself. All of that changed when we got the D&D Starter Set The Lost Mine of Phandelver.

The Starter Set comes with dice, an adventure, a small rules book, and pre-made character sheets. We opted for the pre-made characters to get the whole flavor of the starter set, though you can create your own. The plan was for our family to play once a week with Tarehna being the DM. That plan didn’t quite work out. It took us about a year to finish the adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver. I’m confident you could finish it in a day or two if you didn’t play it about once a month for 30-40 minutes at a go.

Even at this less than light speed pace we learned and we enjoyed the game. Eventually we did finish The Lost Mine of Phandelver and something amazing happened. We were all smiling. We all learned how to do this game and this adventure together. It was rough at first, but we all figured out our characters along the way and better learned the mechanics. Our little group, just three adventurers and a DM, were eager to continue. We have since started The Horde Of The Dragon Queen and are loving it!

What do we love about D&D? There is so much! First, character creation, once one gets the hang of it, is a lot of fun. There is a lot of referencing and cross referencing. You get to choose if you want to be a human, or half-orc, or a tiefling, or a tabaxi. Do you know what a tiefling is? And then you can be a wizard, ranger, or bard. “Bard?” you ask. “Bard.” I respond. Trust me. That’s just the start. You can have spells, and special gear, and wondrous attributes. And wait until you level up and you get more spells or more special attributes.

You want to know the best part? The storytelling and the team work that can evolve as your characters learn how to interact is so fulfilling. You get an incredible feeling of accomplishment when you overcome challenges together. I have stood up in anticipation and anxiety waiting for another player’s dice to stop rolling to see if they succeeded or failed. We have cheered each others’ achievements and also felt regret at lying to characters we have met in game in order to serve our own needs.

It’s important to have fun the way you want to. Focus on mechanics if you want. Maybe you will choose to be more lax about some mechanics so you can focus on storytelling. You can be focused on both and attempt to make the game as immersive as you want.

Those are the 5th edition D&D books in the picture.

I haven’t even mentioned all of the stuff you can acquire if you are so inclined. There are miniatures and maps, dice, dice towers, dice trays, spell cards, and pewter mugs. Well, you don’t need the pewter mugs, but they do add to the ambiance.

I’m looking at all the text above and realizing I could easily turn this into a 4 part series. I’m also realizing that may have to wait. For now I will state that if you haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons and are interested you should try it. Jump in! Get the Starter Set and some friends and learn together. You may already know someone who knows how to play who can guide you. There are also many online resources to get you headed in the right direction. You can even play with other people online. Check Facebook groups and Reddit forums. One bit of advice before you do get started: Find the right group of people for you. Find a group that allows you to role play as much or as little as you want. Find a group that is supportive and one the same page as far as what you all want to get out of the experience.

Now, in lieu of a Part 4 I am going to recommend some other role playing games that you should take a look at. Not everyone wants to fight dragons while pretending to be a sorcerer Kenku.

King of Storms

We have featured Jim Pinto of Postworld Games before and this is one of the reasons. King of Storms is part of the Praxis series of games that do not require a Games Master. Pinto also eschews cumbersome mechanics and puts the emphasis on storytelling.  Half-titans, half-gods, and gorgons battle to become the King of Storms in an story that can take as little as four hours. (trust me, this isn’t that long for a Role Playing Game)

If being a half-titan isn’t your thing we strongly suggest checking out any of the RPGs offered by Postworld Games:

Golden Sky Stories

What? You don’t want to have to be violent in your RPG? No problem. Take a look at Golden Sky Stories. In this game you are all semi-magical animals who occasionally take on human form to help each other and become friends. Golden Sky Stories can be cute, heart warming, and fun.

One Final Recommendation

Get out there and do some research. Check your local game store, ask friends, do some surfing on the world wide web!. Do you want to be a vampire or a house plant? There is a game for you. Good luck!FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail

Anniversary (Of Sorts)

Brandon: Hello! Greetings! Welcome! I started Board Game Jungle on August 28, 2014. “But wait, Brandon, this is Spaghetti & Meeples!” Yes, yes it is. But it wasn’t always. I actually ran this site as Board Game Jungle for close to two years before changing the name due to its similarity to the name of another game blog. I am so glad I did. Spaghetti & Meeples is a much better name. Oh man, did I have a point? Yes!

It’s been three years since I started blogging about board games and table top games. It has been an interesting ride with highs and lows and side trips. I have been lucky enough to meet some incredible people and wonderful game designers. (BTW, I just realized this may read like a “good bye” post; it’s not)

One of my favorite things has been meeting indie and aspiring game designers. In this way I have been able to do a little bit here what I have done on my music blog Some Kind Of Muffin. I’ve also been lucky to meet and talk to those who run some of my favorite game stores and feature them here. All of this is not to mention my fellow bloggers, pod-casters, YouTubers etc. who are all a part of this community and the mission to share the hobby.

While running this site I have also been raising a family, attending graduate school, and now I am an elementary school teacher(substitute). There have definitely been lots of challenges keeping this going while doing all of that. I have tried to bring on additional contributors to alleviate some pressure on myself, but also in order to bring varied perspectives to Spaghetti & Meeples. The results have been mixed and not what I hoped. Overall though, that’s ok.

Making videos has been one of the more fun and creative aspects of running Spaghetti & Meeples and Board Game Jungle previously. Teaching, however, also uses much of that same creative energy. I currently have two video projects for the site in various states of recording, but I am not sure when they will be done. Just as an example, what winds up as a fun 5-10 minute video requires hours of time for lighting, recording, doing multiple takes, and then of course editing. I have been trying to put it off, but I do believe it is time to focus more on writing reviews and articles. The time and effort required for writing is far less than that required for doing videos.

But what does this all mean? It’s been three years since I’ve embarked on this journey and I’m in a reflective and sharing mood. I’m planning on continuing and am curious what that will look like. If you have been following us for awhile I hope you will stick around, and if you’re new to us please stay tuned. Let’s see what happens!FacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinteresttumblrmail

Spaghetti & Meeples Looks At TableFlip!