Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Learn to Play Everdell

Watch Meeple Mentor's tutorial for Everdell, with all three of its expansions: Pearlbrook, Spirecrest, and Bellfaire!  This is one beautiful-looking worker-placement game from Starling Games.

Released on April 28, 2020
Public YouTube link: https://youtu.be/uYbUiBQpwqM

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Learn to Play Charterstone

Check out how to play Charterstone, a legacy game from Stonemaier Games.  Spoilers are kept to a minimum, so you learn what you need to for your very first game.

Release date: April 21, 2020
Public YouTube link: https://youtu.be/gPIgdIBsMbk

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Unboxing Endeavor: Age of Sail

Watch as Meeple Mentor opens the Kickstarter for Endeavor: Age of Sail, with the Age of Expansion.

Released on April 18, 2020
Public YouTube link: https://youtu.be/UULeaqb_S6M

Monday, April 13, 2020

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles Rules

I was an original Kickstarter backer of Batman: Gotham City Chronicles.  I also backed the season 2 kickstarter for a few additional items being offered.
When the game first came out, there were a lot of people having serious trouble understanding their English rulebook.  It was written with flowcharts, but wasn't organized in an easy-to-learn format for most.  At that time, I took it upon myself to rewrite the rulebook.  I encourage anyone who has the game to take a look at it, as I printed it out to keep with the game.  It's much easier to review it than the included rules.
Check it out!

Additionally, I started the official FAQ forum thread, and created a printable FAQ document to help players.  Find it here:

Friday, April 10, 2020

Unboxing Batman Gotham City Chronicles (season 2)

Watch as Meeple Mentor opens the latest Kickstarter from Monolith Games. Season 2 of Batman Gotham City Chronicles.

Released 4/10/20
Public YouTube link: https://youtu.be/GiITknESwy4

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Learn to Play Kanban

One of Vital Lacerda's best games which deserves a full tutorial! Heavy euro about efficiently producing cars in a factory.

Release date: April 7, 2020
Public YouTube link: https://youtu.be/DkTh0jMVExY

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Help Comes

As I continued to produce videos alone, I looked for assistance still with the editing portion.  Anyone I talked to that was interested, also needed me to pay them, which I couldn't do.  Finally, a friend of mine introduced me to his buddy who lives locally and manages a YouTube channel.  He was very eager to help, and insisted he teach me how to edit on my own, instead of him doing it.  Made total sense to me: teach a man to fish instead of giving him a fish.
After a session of meeting with him, I picked up a lot of helpful tips and shortcuts in using Adobe Premiere.  I also used Google A LOT early on to search for answers on what I wanted to do with Premiere.  Through this method, I also learned how to use the green screen effectively.  I'm still not an expert editor, but I get by with what I need!

Around November, I was contacted by a friend of a friend who was interested in doing board gaming video content on YouTube as well.  She regularly plays Dungeons & Dragons and has another board gaming meetup group meeting weekly.  Her interest was to be able to represent the female gamer perspective online.  The plan was for her and I to start working together and doing news together or some kind of 2 person show.  Before that, the PAX Unplugged convention was about to happen, and she was planning to attend.  So, we started with the idea that she would be the reporter on the road for board gaming content.  Looking for interviews and board gaming news via attending various conventions around the country.

We started actually with a Skype interview with Shem Phillips in New Zealand, from Garphill Games.  The interview went very well, and I was looking forward to more interviews she would be getting in the coming week at PAX.  Unfortunately, that didn't work out for a number of reasons.  I won't get into everything here, but by the time we reconnected after the convention, she decided to back out of helping the Meeple Mentor channel.  I think she shared her excitement of working in YouTube, and her long-time friend asked her to help him with his channel instead.  I'm not sure how that's going, but she has said she'll still support me when she can.  I think this means maybe passing out business cards at conventions.

Most recently I discussed with one of my old friends from college the prospect of doing reviews on the channel.  He's a huge board gamer like me, and we still try to game together when we can.  We live 3 hours away, and life gets busy.  I'm not sure the timeline yet on when the reviews may start, because everyone's plans got pushed out due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, I know he has a lot of family plans right now taking up time, such as moving to a new house.
Until then, I'm still doing everything I can with limited help.  I'm enjoying doing it, and have a passion for board gaming.  I plan on continuing forward with creating great gaming content for a long, long time.

Picking up the pieces

After my channel partner quit on me, I needed to figure out how I could continue to make videos myself.  With him gone, I lost my recording space, camera, editor, lights, microphone, and experience.  Additionally, my kids dropped my personal laptop on the floor and broke it beyond repair.  Yikes.
I reached out to local friends and gamers I knew for anyone experienced with filming or editing.  After a couple weeks, I hadn't found anyone that was interested in joining up, without being paid a salary.  It's a hobby project, and one that I have no funding for- so it's difficult to find any help.
I knew I had to get at least the basic resources myself, and learn the editing process as I go.
Thankfully, my parents supported the channel idea and wanted to help.  They gave me an early Christmas AND birthday gift in the form of a new laptop.  Bingo!
My wife is an amateur photographer and uses a high quality digital camera.  She was very happy to help me continue filming gaming videos, and agreed to let me use her camera when I needed it.  We still share it!
Around this time, a friend of mine was working at Sam Ash music and was about to quit for a different career.  On his last day, I was able to pick up some supplies using his employee discount, which was a big help!  I got an attachable microphone for the camera, mic stands, cables, and some other things.
Lighting was my next concern, so I asked my first recording buddy where he got his lights and what he uses to diffuse it.  He gave me some great advice and referred me to some very practical items to get 4 clip lights to use.  He also had an extra green screen I could have, so I can record almost anywhere!
To start recording again, I needed a space.  We have a playroom that our kids use, but only on the rarest occasions.  They really prefer not to be alone, and tend to play wherever mom and dad are.  So, the room was largely unused and available.  I set up the green screen on the wall, set up lights around the room using mic stands, and set up the camera.
After some tests and practice, I got comfortable with how to light the room, and where to place the camera.  I was happy to see the channel may survive after all!  I continued on my own like this, but still open to finding people to help.  Slowly, some people reached out to me... at varying degrees of assistance.

How it Began

For fun, about a year ago I made a teaching video on how to play the game “Archipelago.” It was rough around the edges, for sure, but it was a way to have my friends come to game night ready to play. I figured if they watched a video before coming, we wouldn’t have to take extra time going over the rules. Archipelago can be complex to understand, but a lot of fun once everyone knows what’s going on.

Even though the video was shot in poor quality, I gained a lot of valuable feedback and positive comments! I realized there are a lot of people that absolutely need video explanations of things in order to understand them. I didn’t know just how many people refuse to read a long rulebook, or just have so much trouble with it that they quit! I knew there was something to this, and that there are lots of fairly complex games that most people won’t ever get to play if left to figure it out on their own.
Creating that first video was useful to me to get practice, but also find other people who would be able to help me with making better quality videos. Since making it over a year ago, I partnered with a friend who is an expert videographer, editor, and graphic designer. Together, we launched a channel dedicated to providing helpful board game teaching videos. Archipelago became a proof-of-concept thing, to help me get my project together. Having a year of YouTube analytics on it has been extremely valuable.
I’ve been able to get a clear idea of the direction of the channel, and what kinds of games to cover. We’ve created Meeple Mentor because too many great games get unplayed or sit on shelves because they are deemed "too complicated." I aim to change that by creating helpful teaching videos for all kinds of tabletop board games, focusing primarily on medium-to-heavy weight complexity games. I want everyone to be able to enjoy the wide range of games now out there and being created! It's amazing the variety we have, and yet we're still limited by our ability to read, comprehend, and teach new rules.
My YouTube channel's first teaching videos were recorded and edited during the months leading up to the launch in July, 2019. We prepared 3-4 ready to go for July, then planned for 1-2 a month thereafter.  The first recording session was April 27, 2019.  On May 13, the first video was uploaded and published to the YouTube channel.  It was our coming soon announcement for the big launch.  I began getting involved in social media around June.  Media like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and of course Facebook.
My friend quit on me after a few videos recorded, unfortunately.  His life was picking up with a new baby on the way, and he didn't share my passion for the project.  It takes a lot of time to record and edit the kind of videos I wanted to make.  So, I was left to pick up the pieces and find out how to continue to make this channel happen on my own...