REA Records an Episode with the On Board Games Podcast

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We had an amazing conversation with Donald Dennis of the On Board Games Podcast. This was a substantial, challenging, and interesting discussion about what makes for a great tabletop puzzle game experience, some of the negative trends we’re seeing, and where we hope the genre is going.

OBG 333: Hint System and Bottlenecking

Timestamps & Relevant Links

At 1 hour 40 minutes in length, it’s a long conversation. We broke out and timestamped the conversation so that you can zero in on the topics that interest you most.

The meatiest parts of the conversation are bolded.

0:00 – Introductions

3:10 – Escape room tours & how we go about constructing them

5:20 – About Room Escape Artist & how we approach reviews

7:41 – What tabletop games have we been playing lately? Pandemic Season 1, Exit: The Game – Sinister Manor (review to come), Unlock: The Tonipal’s Treasure, Journal29 & its sequel Journal29 Revelation (review to come, eventually), and Librarians Almanac (review not yet published).

13:50 – What has Donald been playing? Fortune, Ticket To Ride: Nordic Countries, Key Forge

19:00 – Our desire to play games that are easy to pick up without learning tons of rules

20:00 – How many escape rooms we’ve played, how we fund this, our new Patreon, how we operate, and what we want to transform REA into

25:45 – 11 Principles of Tabletop Escape Game Design

28:00 – The rise and fall of Choose Your Own Adventure books and what they mean for tabletop escape games

30:40 – Our favorite easily purchasable tabletop escape game

33:00 – Our favorite more niche tabletop escape game

36:00 – Detailed discussion on the Unlock, Exit, ThinkFun, and Tale of Ord games

57:00 – Tabletop games & expectation-setting

1:00:00 – Detailed discussion of subscription games (Escape The Crate, Cypher House, Dispatch, Hunt A Killer, Mysterious Package Company, Finders Seekers, Lock Paper Scissors)

1:19:00 – Some of the stranger puzzle games we’ve found (Prototype HARP, printable Thingiverse Room Escape, Cryptogram Puzzle Post, and Enigma Emporium)

1:25:00 – Board games with a puzzley or mystery component (Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Tales of the Mythos, Detective: The Modern Crime Boardgame)

1:27:30 – We answer an assortment of questions from Twitter & Boardgame Geek… and we showed some love to Time Stories, Deckscape, and Escape Tales

1:38:30 – David makes a definitive statement regarding the character of Han Solo.


  1. Thank you for the time stamped/subject outline. It allowed me to listen to the subjects that interest me, otherwise, I wouldn’t have attempted to run the podcast.

    What I heard was very beneficial and I am very happy to learn in this manner. A few more wheels are turning in my head now so the inspiration/idea generation is very strong. Thank you!

  2. I’ve just started to get back into CYOA books and I’ve started reading the related genre of gamebooks like Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf. Did you guys ever read those as kids?

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