In the latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming we made four recipes to celebrate the release of my new deckbuilding game Emergents: Genesis. Each of the recipes reflected a different class of superpower in that universe. We are presenting those recipes here each day for easy reference. If you want to learn more about the game you can do so here. You can order the game online or urge your local game store to place an order with ACD Distribution.

Look…I know I use Grade B maple syrup and lemon zest somewhat compulsively when I cook but trust me when I tell you they are essential to making this quick tomato sauce recipe that is almost too good to be true. I grew up with my grandmother’s sauce that would cook all day long, burbling away on a back burner in a vessel that was half silo/half cookware. I loved it but I also love being able to whip up a quick sauce for pasta and this can be made in under 30 minutes — depending on how fast you are with a knife.

When I was trying to settle on the recipes for this latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming I knew I wanted something that reflected the speed and time manipulation of the Non-Stops. In the world of Emergents: Genesis they are led by Billy Stopless, an irrepressible speedster who would certainly appreciate the double takes that saying you put maple syrup in your tomato sauce earns you.



1 large onion finely chopped
Several cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of red pepper flake
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup
Fresh basil leaves, torn

Time to make the sauce:

Finely chop one whole onion. I generally prefer a sweet Vidalia onion but you can use red onion (pictured above) or a Spanish onion — I have even made it with the white part of scallions in a pinch. Finally chop the peeled cloves and grate the zest of one lemon with a micro planer, careful to avoid zesting too deep and hitting the white pith. Pile that all in the center of a pan and add generous pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and the crushed red pepper. Drizzle two tablespoons of good olive oil over the mound and turn on the heat to medium high.

Let the onions and garlic soften and turn translucent — maybe even a little caramelized — before hitting the pan with the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Let that cook down a little and then put the can of tomatoes in. You can cut the tomatoes beforehand — I sometimes just take kitchen scissors and go to work on them inside the can — or you can just mash them up with your spoon or a potato masher. Add a the grade B maple syrup to counterbalance the acid of tomatoes and lemon juice. Let that cook for about 15 minutes. Tear in fresh basil at the end.

In the last episode I made a tomato confit with heirloom tomatoes. I have made this sauce using an equivalent amount of peeled and chopped heirlooms and it is one of my all-time favorite things but it does not possess the pantry-readiness of this version. I always have onions and garlic on hand and I try to have several cans of San Marzanos in the queue at all times.

This is the perfect accompaniment to my grandmother’s macaroni pie but I love it on linguine (or any pasta really).

In the latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming we made four recipes to celebrate the release of my new deckbuilding game Emergents: Genesis. Each of the recipes reflected a different class of superpower in that universe. We are presenting those recipes here each day for easy reference. If you want to learn more about the game you can do so here. You can order the game online or urge your local game store to place an order with ACD Distribution.

The inspiration for this drink was Moxie, the strongest person in the Emergents universe. She calls the students who share her gifts of strength, StrongHarms, and I wanted a drink that packed a punch equal to her skills.



Several sprigs of thyme
Orange pieces
Cherry juice
Grade B maple syrup (You can use simple syrup if you prefer)

Time to Mix the Drinks:

One day head put one or two orange pieces and thyme sprigs into large cocktail ice tray. Pour
cherry juice into tray and freeze overnight.

Cherry juice ice cubes

Place one cherry juice ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Add maple syrup and a couple of
dashes of bitters right on the cube. Pour one shot of bourbon over the cube and then add three parts Prosecco. Serve.

For the show I made the drinks individually but you can do this a classic punchbowl drink by following the same ratios. Instead of ice cubes make a larger ice mold using a bundt pan or something similar. You can have a lot of fun with your drinks using fruit juice ice cubes. My wife uses grapefruit or orange juice cubes for vodka drinks and I am looking forward to rum drinks with watermelon ice cubes this summer. They are even great without alcohol; you can add the cherry juice cubes to ginger ale or even plain ‘ol club soda for a lovely mocktail during the holidays.

Kitchen Table Gaming returns with a new episode around BDM’s new game, Emergents: Genesis! Anthony Conta and Matt Ferrando join for good eats and GGs

Emergents: Genesis is a brand new deckbuilding game that combines my two things that have occupied huge swaths of my professional life — comics and gaming. The game is an interactive deckbuilder in which you use a superhero avatar to fight with up to three other players. The game was designed by Anthony Conta around a world of superheroes — called Emergents — created by me. The artists who worked on the images for this game are all professional comics artists who have created mainstream titles in the superhero genre.

You have probably seen our Kickstarter (and might even have supported us). If you missed our Kickstarter but still want to support the game, you can do so at Urban Island Games. If you want to see the game in your local game shop you should tell your retailer to order it from ACD Distribution while supplies last.

This episode of Kitchen Table Gaming is all about Emergents: Genesis. This game features 13 different characters but for today’s episode I have honed in on four of them and made food (or drink) that ties into each of the four classes of powers that those Emergents possess.

I’m joined in this episode by two of the game designers who helped make Emergents: Genesis possible, Matt Ferrando and Anthony Conta. Punches are thrown; punch is drunk!

Check it out:

Check back all week long as I will be posting text versions of each of these recipes here on Fetchland. Enjoy!

Halimar Tidecaller

Mike (michaelj) and Brian (BDM) are back to Top 8 Magic podcasting on ManaDeprived!

One thing that came up in their most recent podcast “Landfall and Fall TV” is the idea of an “Awaken” theme deck featuring Halimar Tidecaller:

Halimar Tidecaller

Halimar Tidecaller is an interesting, if initially unassuming, little card. It actually has a slightly better body than Eternal Witness (2/3 being superior to 2/1)… But does much the same thing as long as you are looking to return “Awaken” theme cards exclusively. Of course the ability to give your land cards flying is a bonus, but I think the Eternal Witness-ness headlines this Human Wizard Ally.

So the question is… Are there Awaken cards worth playing, let alone building your deck around? We think that the answer is at least possibly yes. Consider:

  • Ruinous Path – Same mana cost as the widely played Hero’s Downfall; trades instant for sorcery, yes, but minor liability relative to Awaken upside and synergies
  • Scatter to the Winds – Literally a Cancel-plus. Substantially worse than Dissolve in the early turns (at the same mana cost); substantially better than most of the 1UU permission spells in very long games
  • Planar Outburst – Most interesting of all the “obvious” Awaken cards simply because it actually has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: Super synergistic with your own Awaken cards! Disadvantage: If you find yourself in an Awaken mirror, you ain’t killing their thing.

Here is a preliminary Halimar Tidecaller Esper Control deck, based on Brian’s enthusiastic comments:

Esper Control by Brian David-Marshall

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
4 Ruinous Path

3 Anticipate
2 Clutch of Currents
4 Dig Through Time
4 Halimar Tidecaller
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Part the Waterveil
4 Scatter to the Winds

2 Dragonlord Ojutai

4 Planar Outburst

4 Flooded Strand
1 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
2 Island
2 Plains
4 Polluted Delta
4 Prairie Stream
4 Shambling Vent
4 Sunken Hollow
2 Swamp

3 Infinite Obliteration
2 Rising Miasma
4 Ultimate Price
2 Disdainful Stroke
3 Part the Waterveil
1 Silumgar, the Drifting Death

One card that was considered that is fairly on-theme is Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper; ultimately we considered that too immediately clunky and vulnerable relative to Dragonlord Ojutai at 3WU (especially no hexproof tapping out).

Of course “Landfall and Fall TV” has much more going on than just Halimar Tidecaller brewing. Check it (and what Mike and Brian are watching right now) out at

Direct Download

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Italian Poutine

In this week’s Kitchen Table Gaming, I and my guests actually play a game of Arena of the Planeswalkers!

Arena of the Planeswalkers is the board game version of our old favorite, Magic: The Gathering. So for this week’s episode, I put some different / unexpected twists on other favorites.

Italian Poutine – Inspired by my recent trip to Canada for Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver. This “Italian” Poutine (pictured above) combines some very different ingredients than your classic plate of disco fries.

Elvis Banana Pudding – Whenever anyone comes to visit New York City, one of the most sought after food destinations is Magnolia Bakery (where they make a very good banana pudding). Ours is super charged with a particular ingredient to make a Banana Pudding fit for a King 😉

Check out the recipes — and our Arena of the Planeswalkers play — and see what Kitchen Table Gaming is all about:

Me and my guests:

Arena of the Planeswalkers

Arena of the Planeswalkers is the upcoming tabletop version of Magic: The Gathering.

Fetchland and Kitchen Table Gaming met up with Hasbro Director of Brand Strategy and Marketing, Angus Walker at Gen Con about Arena of the Planeswalkers. We are overjoyed to give you this exclusive look.

According to Angus, Arena of the Planeswalkers has “all the key tenets of Magic” and the “key things that make Magic so great” while layering tactical game play from the board game side of the house.

So… Arena of the Planeswalkers. What do you think?

Go Person

It’s ironic how a game that was created to fill the void between sessions of other games has become so big, so large that it now suffers from the same problem. Maybe your MTGO draft is slow to fire, or your friend is late to your house, or you’re travelling to an event and want something to do in the afterhours when the hall is closed, but we’ve all had downtime while waiting to play Magic. Small, short games can offer a lot of interesting decisions while remaining tiny enough to only take up a little bit of your time. Sometimes, we need a game that lasts 5-15 minutes so we can fill some time before we get back to Magic.

So whether you’re at a GP, waiting for the eighth man to show up at your house to draft, or just looking for something a little different, here are eight games you can turn to when not playing Magic:

Love Letter

Love Letter

It’s hard to describe what type of game Love Letter is. It’s a party game. It’s a strategy game. Perhaps the best way to describe it is “fun.” While the theme is threadbare, you’re basically trying to eliminate the other players while being the last man standing or to have the highest card in your hand by the end of the round (which generally lasts as long as three minutes).



Hive is a two player chess variant that evolves as you play it. You get around 10-12 pieces to use to build a board, playing or moving hexes one at a time until you can surround the opponent’s queen. It’s similar to chess, but with a bit more unpredictability to it, since the play space changes as the game progresses.

The Duke

The Duke

Like Hive, The Duke is a two player chess variant where planning ahead and spacial thinking are key. Unlike Hive, the Duke has a lot more randomness in it – if you want to add a piece to the board, you pull a random one out of a bag, which means each game evolves differently than the last, and you have to learn to adapt on the fly instead of rely on a dominant type of piece.

Star Realms

Star Realms

Similar to Ascension or Dominion, Star Realms is a deck building game (designed by Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle) where you all start with the same resources and compete to gain new ones, with the eventual goal of reducing your opponent to zero life before they do the same to you. Imagine if while you were drafting, you could play the spells you pick several turns later – it feels similar. Best of all, they have a digital version, so you don’t even need to carry much to a friend’s house or a GP!



If Scrabble didn’t have words and relied on pictures instead, you’d have Iota – a game about connecting shapes, colors and numbers on an evolving board in an attempt to get the most points possible. Depending on how you play your cards, you can get as little as two points or as many as hundreds. A game for people who like planning ahead, managing board space and matching symbols, Iota demands you to think harder than any other game on this list.

Eight Minute Empire

Eight Minute Empire

As the name implies, in Eight Minute Empire you have to conquer as much of the world as you can in eight minutes. For a game with few, if any words, it’s surprisingly complex and deep. You draft resources and points while deploying troops around the world, all in eight minutes. It’s like micro-Risk, but without spending eight minutes rolling dice each turn.

Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham

A bluffing game where you’re incentivized to lie to your friends constantly, Sheriff of Nottingham is a surprisingly simple game about trying to get away with as much as possible. Each turn, the Sheriff tries to question people about the goods in their bags, preventing people from smuggling more into the town than they say they have. Note that you may walk away from this game looking at your friends in a new light as they lie to your face over and over again.



Last but not least, Funemployed is a party game [designed by me 🙂] where people try to apply to jobs saying things they’d never say on an interview – how your Daddy Issues make you a great Superhero, or why your Jet Packs make you the best Secret Agent. It’s a game that can be played for three minutes or three hours, depending on who you’re with. Note that like Sheriff, it’s also possible that you walk away from this game looking at your friends in a new light too, but because they say crazy, unpredictable things.

So what about you guys? What are your favorite games to fill the time while waiting to play a game of Magic or when you need a change of pace?

–Anthony Conta

PT HoF Ring

I know something you don’t know.

That’s the essential narrative of most Pro Tour Hall of Fame ballot articles; and to a degree the implicit reason certain members of the community are entrusted with Pro Tour Hall of Fame votes to begin with.

You know, I know something you don’t know.

“I know that so-and-so doesn’t have the numbers to back up a legit Hall of Fame bid, but did you know that he did such-and-such a thing in the across-the-Narrow-Sea community? (I know something you don’t know), so lemme tell you why I am voting for so-and-so (and why you should too).”


“I mean there wouldn’t even BE [this other slam-dunk Hall of Famer] if not for whosits-whatsits. Whosits’s influence on the nascent Eastern Latverian metagame development scene is simply unprecedented. YOU wouldn’t know that, of course; but I know something you don’t know.”


“Look man, I was there. You young whippersnappers and your spreadsheets, your medians and modes, counting your Top 8s like they are pennies around April 15… You just didn’t know, man. You didn’t see it. People just played that way back then. He was in the shit. We were all in the shit. I know something you don’t know: I WAS THERE.”

Because, you know, I know something you don’t know.

It was this reliance on secret knowledge that guided many of my early votes; and to be fair, many of all the early votes of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. I voted in younger years for players like Brian Hacker* and Itaru Ishida. I could spend five or six thousand words on the narrative around my vote.

In my old age, though, I’ve declined more into the hard numbers. There are just too many stories. Call me crazy but I don’t see for inducting someone into the Hall of Fame because he cultivates a local gaming scene. There are tons of store owners out there cultivating their local gaming scenes and we are not inducting any of them into the Hall of Fame. I personally know one store owner who produced a Pro Tour Top 8 player, a key Director at WotC (who came up via the Pro Tour) and arguably the game’s most notable strategist; also a hell of a businessman who has grown a small market community by orders of magnitude over the last twenty years. I know another former store owner who produced not just three Pro Tour Champions, but three Hall of Famers! Who knows if any of them would have gotten out of high school without him? Those are wonderful contributors to our community; but the idea that we would induct them into the Hall of Fame is foreign… Unless they have the minimum requisite number of PT points? Does that make very much sense?

As balloteers we are tasked with evaluating Hall of Fame candidates on five criteria:

  1. Player’s performances
  2. Playing ability
  3. Integrity
  4. Sportsmanship
  5. Contributions to the game in general

In my first year as a voter, I tried to come up with a system that celebrated each of these five criteria. That was the last year I tried to do something along those lines, as my ballot came out completely different than I probably would have liked. I knew something others didn’t know (or at least I thought I did); but I elected not to draw on that knowledge, apparently.

Others have not been so shy.

I know a former editor who voted for the game’s most notorious cheater because — gasp — he knew (or at least saw) something the rest of us didn’t. “Mr. Short has really changed,” he told me. “I know he has a terrible reputation as a cheater, but if you had seen how he handled that drunk kid in that one side event you’d have a new respect for him, too**.” I told you he knew something we didn’t know!

For most of the Hall of Fame, the only thing anyone talks about is the first category: Performances.

Even now in my dotage, I am relying on things that I know that other people don’t. It has just dawned on me that maybe they know and just don’t care. Maybe the secret things we think we know other people actually know, but don’t value. In a podcast I did with bdm and Craig Wescoe last week (my Team Ultra PRO teammate who I randomly ran into at FNM) I made some bombastic statement about voting for Shouta Yasooka but not Tom Martell (I noted that it’s fine to vote for Shouta but makes no sense to vote for Shouta and not Tom). Apparently there are plenty of people who are happy to vote for Shouta and not Tom!

From Paul Jordan’s article a few weeks back:

Paul's 2015 short list

To me this is a clear-cut case. Shouta has more Pro Tours than Tom (but that just means that he has had more at-bats); ditto on Pro Points. Tom has one of the best Median careers on the ballot and the best 15-event Median more-or-less ever. The two are very comparable on most of the other stats (and are certainly more comparable than most of the voters seem to acknowledge)… Shouta has one more Player of the Year Top 10, one more Top 16, and four more Top 32s; Tom won twice as many Grand Prixs and has a second World Championship appearance. To me Tom has had a very similar career to Shouta in half as many tries. We don’t typically vote people in on the differentiating stuff (tonnage of GP Top 8s).

Justin Gary might make for an even stronger argument. One PT difference between the two of them (in Justin’s favor); Justin has a better median, 15-event median, number of Top 8s, Top 16s, Top 32s and Top 64s. Shouta crushes Justin on GPs (which, I assume, is where his PT points advantage comes from).

Here’s the thing about performances only: There is no clear-cut inductee this year. Basically everyone on the ballot except for Saito would pull down Hall averages. Even EFro! (Hall Median Top 8s — the most important statistic for most voters — is 5; EFro has “only” 4.)

That’s a toughie, isn’t it?

Or, from my vantage point, for conscientious voters, it should be.

Two weeks ago I thought I was 50% to vote for EFro; 50% to vote for EFro and Shouta.

Then I had a conversation with Jonny Magic that convinced me that Tom was a better candidate than Shouta, but that EFro was not as much a slam-dunk as I had originally thought (don’t forget, I voted for both of them last year). So I was 33% to vote for EFro, 33% to vote for EFro and Tom, 33% to vote for no one.

But I learned something you might not know:

Someone gets in.

If “someone” gets in, I’d rather it were EFro, who even with “only” four Top 8s, is at least the most powerful Magician in the world right now. It’s rare that we see a Magician at the height of his powers inducted into the HoF. But who knows? EFro might get his fifth visit to the Sunday podium, you know, next weekend.

… Which is how I landed on my ballot.

My 2015 Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame ballot: Eric Froehlich


* In fact, my article on voting for Brian Hacker remains one of my favorite Star City Games articles of all time. An excerpt:

When you swing with a two-drop, you are tearing a page out of a hymnal at the Church of Hacker. When you play a sub-optimal drop because it contributes to the whole of your deck or the redundancy of your deck rather than shining individually as a tier one card, you are tossing your cap in the air and running through the fountains of the graduation ceremony at the Brian Hacker Institute for Technologickal Arts. In the unlikely event that you roll into a club after a tournament money finish and swap tongue-lashings with a blonde with whom you share no other lingual fluency, or perhaps elicit a screaming “Azul!” from a crowd of onlooking Latinas hungry to take in a little spectator Magic: The Gathering, you are clumsily attempting to cram your feet into the worn basketball sneakers of the Hacker of old, the one who broke other people’s games rather than making them himself.

** Paraphrase, but that was his actual reason for reversing his position on, ahem, Mr. Short. I knew something you didn’t know, but now you know, too.


Anthony Conta gaming

Hi there! My name’s Anthony, and I’m a game designer.

Well, actually, that’s not the whole story. I’m a lot of things: a husband, a tutor, a gamer, a business owner, a dog lover, a Sagittarius, a human being, a mammal, and many more–including a new writer for this lovely site! But for the purposes of my articles, let’s just stick with game designer.

Brian (bdm) asked me to write about a topic near and dear to my heart: games. I love games. I’ve been playing games since I was old enough to walk. One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from my parents was an abandoned Game Gear left in my mother’s office at school when I was five years old. My bookshelves are bending under the weight of all my board games. I have such a large backlog of digital games that if I retired now and spent forty hours a week playing them to completion, I’d probably die before I finished.

This love of games caused me to be a bit – ahem – impulsive as I dove head-first into making them without any sort of plan or structure. To be honest, I’m still winging it. But I love it.

It all started with my friend, Josh, a writer. Four years ago, he casually mentioned he was making a game because of his love of science fiction. “You can DO that?!?!?” I proclaimed, astonished at the idea that anyone could just make a game, without any sort of plan, experience or company behind them. But it made sense. To design something, all you have to do is create it, and if it’s good enough, the rest will fall into place, right?

I wanted in, so I joined him. We had our fun, but it didn’t work out, so we went our separate ways. Josh kept writing, and I decided to pursue games further. That pursuit led me into a deep, secret underground of game designers, reporters, and enthusiasts that lived right under my nose in New York City. There are meetups every month, week, day even, where people who love games, for whatever reason, congregate and play. I’ve been to mini playtesting sessions with well-established professors and designers, bars where gamers meet consistently every week, and even obscure, loud, and crowded warehouses where I played games that were still in their early stages of existence. Being a part of this community felt like the Kickstarter mentality of helping creators bring their projects to life, except there was more interaction, less expectation, and a more personal connection. It was addicting–a network of individuals who shared my same passions, all manifesting in different ways. I went to every event I could, soaking it all in, trying to retain anything and everything that I came in contact with. I went to classes. I heard designers speak about their experiences. I went to expos where hundreds of people came to play games created by people who just wanted to make games. These people weren’t a part of any company or program, yet they had fully functional, enjoyable games right in front of my face.

But here I was, this kid, this child, this pretender. I didn’t have a degree. I didn’t have work experience. I hadn’t even designed, let alone produced or released a game before! Yet I was a part of this social circle, this community, propelled forward by one, singular drive: the desire to make games. That’s all I wanted; to express myself through my love of games by creating the games I wanted to play. The games I needed to exist. That desire kept pushing me further, pushing me to be better, transforming me into what I had always wanted to be: a game designer.

Influenced by my experiences and interactions with this community, I came up with a game with my girlfriend. It was a simple, little game I didn’t expect to go very far. It had a sardonic feel to it, a theme that was self-deprecating, and it caused its players to act out in silly voices, claim outrageous things, and overall act like a bunch of goofballs. Yet it was fun. It was really fun. And as I kept showing it to people, more and more of them wanted to play. And keep playing. In fact, it became increasingly rare that I would find someone who didn’t like the game.

People started to support me in surprising ways. My girlfriend became my greatest business partner. My best friends started to help playtest and design with me. We developed relationships with other companies. We travelled together, to faraway places, just to play the game. I never would have succeeded in any capacity without their help.

I gave the game a catchy name: ‘Funemployed’. I did a small print run to legitimize it further. I found a publisher. I started a company. I ran a Kickstarter. I went to a convention, and we sold out of stock three times during that weekend. I did a cooking show. I asked my girlfriend to marry me, using the game as my proposal. I found a new publisher. I did a second Kickstarter. I got the game to Amazon. I made an expansion. On and on, each experience built on the next, like a stack of legos forming a giant skyscraper (at least, I hope they’re legos–someone save me if they’re Jenga pieces instead).

While Funemployed went through its transformation, I made more games. Brian and I, with the help of a lot of other people, made a card game. I worked on prototypes for new experiences. I consulted with companies about design. I went to more conventions. On and on, the wheel turned, with nothing driving me forward except that one, singular desire–to create. I didn’t have an MBA that told me how to run a business. I didn’t have a design degree grounded in ‘the meaning of play.’ I didn’t have a network of individuals I could lean on when I started. All I had when I began this journey, the one thing that I can truly attribute to the distance I’ve travelled, is that singular desire, gnawing at my soul, whispering in the back of my head, ever since I held that Game Gear in my hands: you must make games.

I can’t control that voice, that side of me–it owns me. I can’t silence it, I can’t turn it off. It wants to talk. It wants to engage in the conversation of play. It drives me to read textbooks about game design. It drags me to hidden clubs to play local multiplayer games. It wakes me up at 3AM, demanding my attention. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious, and if I let it out, it won’t stop talking. Ever.

That voice will keep going forever–I feel it all the time. But I’ll stop here. For now. I talk about games a lot. When I’m not talking about them, I’m thinking about them. When I’m not thinking about them, I’m playing them. When I’m not playing them, I’m teaching them. Games are a part of my life.

If you ever want to talk to me about games, I’m–well–game! I’m right here on Fetchland. I’m on Twitter. I might even be at a convention. Feel free to say hi, shoot me a tweet, or leave a comment. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m a game designer, and I’m in the business of doing what I love: making games.

-Anthony Conta