Geeky Parent Guide: Sit Down with ‘All You Can Board:’ You’ll Be Delighted and Stay

Finding your footing in the wonderful world of board games can be quite daunting. There are a seemingly endless number of games you can choose from; plus, there are a variety of themes, different player counts, and many game mechanics that serve as the method to make moves within each game. Do we collect cards? Do we roll dice? Do we vie for resources by placing meeples? Fortunately, we have a great pair from All You Can Board (AYCB) to chat with today to share their experiences with tabletop games.

All You Can Board is a fantastic YouTube channel, where board game fans of any experience level can watch tutorials, reviews, new game reveals, and a variety of lists to help you learn so much in a very big gaming world. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dylann and Carlo for taking time to talk about All You Can Board, the amazing community they’ve created, and their board game experiences.

Carlo and Dylann

Geeky Parent Guide: Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me! All You Can Board is such a fun and welcoming community, with a lot of great videos for fans of all ages. Was AYCB a project you both always envisioned wanting to create? Was there a moment where it was like, “Okay, we’re going to do this?”

Carlo: Thank you for the kind words! The first discussion we ever had about doing something like this would’ve been in 2017 or 2018, and after we talked about it that day, I think we both knew it would definitely happen at some point. We eventually launched in January 2020.

Dylann: Yeah I think we got to a point where we just said, “Okay, let’s just officially do this and launch the site and channels.” We planned, conceptualized, and ruminated for a while, but at some point you just have to start!

GPG: Were there games you gravitated towards growing up, whether it be board or video games, and how has that changed to where you are now with playing games?

C: Aside from being into Chess off and on since my brother taught me how to play when I was a kid, none of the board games I played growing up were all that memorable. At least not compared to all the video games I played for most of my childhood.

My favourites for most of my life have been the Metroid, Zelda, and Mario series of games, especially Metroid and Zelda. I never owned many games for any console, but I owned every main Nintendo console from NES to Wii specifically to play those. I loved the adventure and exploration, getting to know those worlds better, gaining power-ups to access new areas, etc. I just love getting lost in these imaginative worlds.

D: I played a LOT of video games growing up, not as many board games. I’m a huge Final Fantasy fan, so I have fond memories of playing VII and IX over and over. Pretty much most RPGs I would be checking out. I also got big into World of Warcraft when it came out in 2004 and played regularly for years.

GPG: Playing board games can really provide a connection with those you play with or simply through the theme itself. My son Marshall is often wanting me to play games with him (which I love!), and it’s exciting to see him have that in common with me. He’s quite smitten with Marvel Champions, and I’m slowly working my way there with him. I think he really digs the superhero aspect.  Do you feel like there’s a game out there for everyone, even if someone doesn’t regularly play games? Based off your experiences of introducing games to others or simply by the overall design of a game, are there games you’d recommend to someone who doesn’t dive into board games often?

D: Yeah, I would say it depends what you mean by “a game for everyone.” There likely won’t be a game for every person that will entrench them in the hobby or convince them to become regular board gamers. But I think there is a game out there that everyone will enjoy on some level, even just for an evening around the table with some friends.

C: I’m not sure there’s a game out there for everyone in the sense that everyone should be able to find that perfect game they absolutely love. But I do think a lot of people close themselves off from giving games a chance because they just assume they won’t like them. To your second question – it’s tough to make recommendations without knowing more about the person. The range of what I might recommend would vary considerably based on what type of experience that person is looking for. Some people might be looking for a particular theme, or maybe a game with no player interaction, or maybe a social game, and even just those few examples would steer my recommendation.

GPG: If someone is already a big fan of board games and they love the experience of connecting with their friends or making new ones, regardless of themes, what games would you say they should try out or add to their collections?

D: So many good options! For this type of situation, I would suggest games like For Sale, Codenames, So Clover, Wavelength, Snake Oil, 6 nimmt!, even maybe Quacks of Quedlinburg or Modern Art for slightly more involved games. Basically, games that will lead to collaboration or fun and easy-going confrontation. There are so many other options though.

C: Another tough question, and likely too general for me to give a good answer. Most years there are thousands of new board games released, the majority of which we don’t get to play, and I haven’t even played 500 games in total yet.

More than recommending a specific game, I would recommend an approach to trying/buying games, and it all comes down to knowing yourself and what you want. If you already like games, don’t just go buy the most popular games and expect that you’ll like them all. Ask yourself – do you want more games like the ones you already enjoy, or do you want to branch out and find something different? Do you want more or less player interaction? Is player count important (i.e., do you often game with more than 4 players)? The more questions you can ask yourself, and the more precisely you can answer those questions, the better idea you’ll have of where to look next.

GPG: All You Can Board ran a 24-hour livestream event earlier this year, where you both and many others played board games to raise money for Sara Riel, an organization aimed to help those with mental health challenges, as well as substance use struggles. During the livestream, you both talked about hoping to raise maybe 2 or 3 thousand dollars, but ended up raising nearly $17,000.  Now that some time has passed and you’ve (hopefully) recovered from the event and can fully process what was accomplished, what does the 24-hour livestream event tell you about the community you’ve created and those in the board gaming community as a whole?

C: Our little AYCB community has been outstanding, as has the board gaming community in general. The number of people who reached out to offer prizes to contribute to the event, donated to the cause, helped spread the word, tuned in during the livestream… it was incredible. We knew for a while now, especially since launching our Discord server, that we had an awesome community building here, but this event really highlighted that and it seems to have brought everyone together even more.

D: It tells me that it’s even more special and more amazing than I already thought it was. Carlo and I both have full-time jobs and so with doing AYCB, as well, our time can often be limited. Which means that even though we are present in our Discord community and the YouTube comments, we aren’t in either of those places as often as others are. But to see how the community thrives when we’re around or when we’re not and the friendships that are being made, the games that are taking place, the tournaments that are being set up…and just the amazing personalities that are present in our community. The amazing humans that have joined us on this adventure. I’m speechless every day that I think about it. It has exceeded every possible wildest expectation I could have had for what our channel’s community would be and could be. I’m so eternally grateful and I’m constantly in awe at all of you.

GPG: Is there the potential for another charity event in the future? Does it look the same or would it be tweaked differently - perhaps a few days event like San Diego Comic-Con, where you can still do some good, while getting some rest while the “convention doors” are closed?

C: Possibly. I mean, we’ll definitely do some sort of charity event again in the future. We haven’t decided yet if we’ll do something annually or just sporadically when we feel we can. This past event was a LOT of work, and as rewarding as it was, it’s still a bit too soon for us to know if we can realistically pull off something like that again soon, or if we would go about it differently in the future. We learned a lot from this, and at some point later this year I’m sure we’ll talk about it more and consider doing something similar again one day.

D: We’ll definitely keep finding ways to support mental health and other charitable initiatives. There’s no doubt about that. I would take a guess that we aren’t likely to do a 24-hour livestream annually because it’s just SO much work and I don’t think at our current size and with full-time jobs and families, we can take that on. But every 2 years a big event? And a smaller one on years in-between? Definitely possible!

GPG: With you both loving games so much, I can only imagine how many games you both have played together. Are there any favorite games you both love playing with the other? Are there games you wish you could play together more often?

C: Our favourite 2-player games to play together are probably Santorini and Lost Cities. With more than 2 players, we really like auction games, or at least games where auctions or bidding play a part, like Modern Art, Keyflower, and Biblios. It always leads to a lot of friendly banter and tons of laughs around the table.

There are TONS of games we wish we could play together more often. Most of our favourite Reiner Knizia and Uwe Rosenberg designs are games we wish we could play a lot more together. Same goes for any complex games where we feel we just scratched the surface…I mean, if we were just out of high school or even in our early 20s, we’d probably have a lot more time to play our favourite games over and over. As it is, between having full-time jobs and running a YouTube channel, it’s rare that we get to play a game more than 5 or 10 times before we move onto something different.

D: Carlo nailed many of the ones I would have mentioned. But honestly, I think we also just love playing new games together and continuing to explore the hobby together. Seeing the ways our opinions converge and diverge depending on the game and how our tastes evolve in general. Regardless of how we differ or align on games we play, we always have a great time.

GPG: Playing games on Board Game Arena (BGA) seems like a safe way to try out new games. Are there some games on BGA you think serve well as learning a game for the first time? Are there some games you think are best to be experienced in-person with the physical edition?

D: There are tons of games that you can learn on BGA for the first time that may be the best first way to experience them! 7 Wonders: Duel is a good example for me. Same with Patchwork. For Sale, Via Magica, Welcome To, Kingdom Builder, all also great options.

C: Race for the Galaxy, currently my #2 game of all-time, isn’t a particularly easy game to teach or learn due to all the iconography. But on BGA, you can hover over a card with your cursor, and a little text box will pop up which explains the iconography, so that’s really helpful. And you can play a game of Race for the Galaxy very quickly on BGA, so that’s probably my top choice for that question.

The aforementioned Keyflower should definitely be experienced in-person rather than on BGA. It’s fine on BGA, it does the job, but it’s not as well-implemented as a lot of the other games, and in general that type of high interaction game tends to work best in-person. I absolutely love Keyflower, but I rarely suggest playing it on BGA because you definitely lose some of what makes the game special by playing it on there.

GPG: Speaking of BGA, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing with those from your Discord community. Everyone has been super friendly and there never has been any sort of mean-spiritedness amongst the games or in the Discord. As someone who can feel nervous around people, there seems to be this overwhelming appreciation for games and each other, which does translate to a good vibe where it is easier to connect with other people.  Can you share how important this community, and the AYCB community as a whole, has been to you both and what it means to help others “break out of their shell” in a way or continually provide a positive outlet for others?

C: Absolutely. That was something that we didn’t think much about when we first launched AYCB. We didn’t expect our channel to grow as much as it did and as quickly as it did, so when we started getting comments from people saying we were helping them with their mental health, or helping people get through the isolation of the pandemic or whatnot, that was really rewarding and eye-opening for us. We didn’t realize we were having that kind of reach and effect on people, and when folks like you, or other members of our community say this kind of stuff to us, it truly is the best compliment we can receive about anything we do.

We’ve had members of our community reach out and say they’ve made friends through our Discord server who they now talk to on a regular basis about just regular life stuff, unrelated to board games. To me, that’s just amazing, and speaks volumes to how invested you all are, not only in AYCB but in each other, and we’re so grateful to be part of something special like that.

D: The idea of establishing and growing an AYCB community was always something we thought about, but definitely not in terms of having a Discord community or having it be as tight-knit and amazing as it has become. Seeing how people have congregated to the Discord community for conversations, games, general chats, etc., has been just amazing. I think it’s a great way for people to come together, via a couple common things (our channel and board games), and find people who share their likes, their opinions, and form bonds and even friendships. I love how often I can pop in and see so many conversations happening between fans and people in our community. It’s really special.

GPG: One of the things we try to accomplish with the GPG is to provide positive ways for parents to connect with their kiddos through pop culture. Ultimately, we hope this will help translate to positive communication where parents and kids will learn to communicate about any and all things.  What are some games you would recommend to families where part of the game is communication of some kind? On the other hand, not everyone is into a lot of chatting during games. What games would you say would be good to get to the table, and even though there might not be a lot of communication within the game, it would still be a fun family experience?

C: I would definitely recommend either of The Crew games (either The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine or The Crew: Mission Deep Sea), because they’re cooperative games with limited communication, and the game plays in short rounds. So, you have these pockets of 5-15 minutes where you’re mostly silent, trying to give each other subtle cues and play cards together in a way to accomplish your mission. Then, once you either succeed or fail, it’s so fun to talk with everyone about what people were thinking during the round, what they were trying to convey to their teammates by playing a certain card at a specific time, etc.

It’s an excellent way to bring people together over an activity, without forcing any awkward conversation. It’s this back and forth of focus and contemplation followed by this eruption of laughter (and sometimes blame) as you debrief and figure out where things went wrong or who made that one brilliant play that won the round. And since the rounds are so quick, the stakes aren’t super high and nobody’s night will be ruined. If you lose, who cares? Just set up another round and go again! Or put it away and play something else.

D: Carlo is the family man, so I’m going to leave it at his answer! I’m sure as his son grows, too, he’ll have more and more options for a question like this!

GPG: You both have dedicated so much time to sharing positivity within the board game world. Even when comparing your all-time favorite games or competing on a livestream, there is always a sense of fun and good sportsmanship amongst you both. Are there games that stand out to you that evoke such a feeling where you come back to them often, because you enjoy the game experience regardless of the outcome?

D: I definitely am not competitive in board games. There are rare situations where I’ll care about winning or losing more, but in general, I play for the experience and for the fun of it. Some options of games I love to come back to and play with friends for the amazing experience are: Kingdom Builder, Modern Art, MonsDRAWsity, So Clover, Codenames, Cat Lady, Azul, Patchwork, Enchanted Plumes…there are too many. Almost every board game on my Top 50 and beyond could fit on this list.

C: This might be a boring answer but I think we both play games more for the experience than the outcome. I can name tons of games that I’ve never won but still love to play, and I think Dylann could do the same. Sometimes it can be a tricky thing to pinpoint whether I had fun because of the game or in spite of it. Even if I’m playing a bad game, there’s something about sitting down to play a new game for the first time that leads to it almost always being an enjoyable experience, even if I later realize I don’t want to play that game again. To me, that highlights how much of my enjoyment of gaming just comes from being in the company of good friends and experiencing new things.

If I had to pick just one game for your question, it would probably be MonsDRAWsity. I’m terrible at drawing and I always finish in last place, but I always laugh so much and everyone has a blast every time we play it. One player tries to describe a wacky monster (after only getting 20 seconds to memorize its features), and the other players are police sketch artists who have 2 minutes to draw based on the witness’ description. Amazing game that brings people of all ages and drawing levels together.

GPG: Lastly, have you both ever considered creating your own board game? What theme or game mechanics would you want to employ within your own creation?

D: For me, even though I can have ideas or concepts that I think would be great to have in a game, I really think I’d be an awful board game designer, haha. It is a LOT of work, requires tons of playtesting, iterating, patience and overall design sense. I think I’d rather come up with a cool idea and then just pass it on to Reiner Knizia for him to turn it into a masterpiece, like he’s prone to do. I won’t even ask for any royalties. Maybe just a picture and an autograph. Haha.

C: I’ve had ideas here and there over the years, and I keep a small notebook with those ideas in case I decide to dabble into that any further in the future. But as it is right now, working full-time while also making videos for AYCB and being a dad, I just don’t have the time that would be required to design a board game right now. I love the idea of it, and I can see myself getting into that more one day, but not in the immediate future.

Once again, I want to massively thank Dylann and Carlo for taking time to chat and sharing their experiences about board games. If you want more All You Can Board in your life, make sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel. Plus, you can follow them online through all of their social media, including becoming a supporter on their Patreon.

If you’re looking for a wonderful gaming community to join, or you or your little ones are looking for fun and insightful videos about tabletop games, check out All You Can Board and you will be happy you found them in your life.

Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.

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