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My husband has marooned me, penniless, on an island in the middle of the Caribbean. I use the only tools I have—cannons and pure cunning—to maneuver my way onto a boat and, eventually, to wrestle back my treasure. And this is just the beginning of our evening. No, we’re not actually on an island, or [...]
Linda Lee Baird



My husband has marooned me, penniless, on an island in the middle of the Caribbean. I use the only tools I have—cannons and pure cunning—to maneuver my way onto a boat and, eventually, to wrestle back my treasure.

And this is just the beginning of our evening.

No, we’re not actually on an island, or on an experimental couples retreat; we’re playing Tortuga 1667, a board game produced by Columbus-based company Facade Games. I have to say, it feels good to be a wheeling-and-dealing lady pirate on the high seas—especially when you win.

Travis and Holly Hancock, a husband-and-wife team, founded Facade in 2015 while still in college at Brigham Young University. The idea for their first game came from an assignment in one of Travis’s classes. “We launched our first game, which was Salem, as kind of just a fun little side project, just hoping to make a few thousand dollars to make a couple hundred copies for our friends and family,” he said. The project took off on Kickstarter and raised over $100,000. With that, the Hancocks began thinking about making games full-time.

Travis grew up in Beavercreek, Ohio, playing games with his eight siblings. He described himself as a lifelong game “tweaker,” willing to change the rules of household standbys like Mafia, Werewolf, and Bang to make them more interesting. “Anything where you can bring your personality into the game so it’s less of a pure strategy and more of like who’s playing and what are they saying … like reading people,” he said. These lessons informed his work as a game developer. 

Facade followed Salem (which was re-released in a second edition as Salem 1692) with Tortuga 1667 in 2017, drawing on their Kickstarter network to raise over $400,000. Holly joined Travis in quitting her day job, and the two started working full-time on Deadwood 1876, which will come out in October. This time, they raised over $600,000 on Kickstarter, exceeding their goal by over 2000 percent. Collectively, these games make up the first three volumes of “The Dark Cities” series—games that are named for a city and year, and are “focused on a dark element of history,” Travis said.

So how does Facade stand out in this competitive industry? Travis explained that it starts with the packaging.

“Growing up, my mom would always say, ‘as soon as a game’s box is broken, then you won’t ever play the game again.’ It’s kinda true because boxes get squished inside game cupboards, the pieces get lost, you just don’t want to play it anymore. The packaging has always been important to me… We wanted it to stand out.” They decided to make their packaging look like classic hardcover books, which, in addition to being sturdy, look great on your shelf.

The addadge to “never judge a book by its cover” applies here as well, and as attractive as the games look, it’s what’s inside that counts. “All of our [games] have the social deduction aspect to them, some form of lying or tricking people or backstabbing or teamwork. I just think those are the most fun games to play,” Travis said. They also have high player count, with every Dark Cities game able to accommodate up to nine players at once.

You can even learn something new while playing. “All the characters are real people. We have actually put biographies and a brief history of the city in each rulebook,” Travis said. Researching the city and characters is an important part of Facade’s game development process. They typically go through about a hundred versions of a game before it’s released, with an eye to building a game for the “casual” player who enjoys games, but doesn’t want to spend all night mastering arcane rules.

Once they’re confident in the content, Holly takes over for the design. “I grab inspiration from researching the time period and then we work with our illustrator… who somehow always captures the feel we’re going for… My job is to highlight her illustrations and Travis’s game idea, and build a game that’s functional.” Holly said.

Deadwood 1876 brings all of the elements Facade is known for together and ups the ante a bit. “It’s maybe my favorite,” Travis said. In it, players move between teams, working together to capture safes containing gold. They are also individually collecting guns that can be used to eliminate their teammates in the final showdown. “You’re sort of working with each other but you’re also preparing to beat each other, so it creates a really interesting dynamic.”

Until Deadwood launches, I have a feeling Tortuga will keep my family occupied. While I may have come back last time, my husband is preparing to revisit the island. And this time, he assures me, he’s bringing a crew. 

Dark Cities Series games are available for purchase and pre-order at

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614NOW Survival Guide: Asian Festival

Mitch Hooper



Every year, the beautiful and lush space at Franklin Park Conservatory plays host to The Asian Festival. It's a festival where Ohioans come together to celebrate all Asian cultures and cuisines ranging from China to India to Vietnam. Whether it's inspired dance, martial arts, or new-to-you desserts, this festival offers a chance to explore Columbus's rich Asian culture while enjoying a day at the Conservatory.

And before you head out this weekend, here are a few tips to making the most out of Asian Festival.

Let's Just Get This Out Of The Way Now: It's Free

Obviously, food and drinks, and anything else you want to purchase costs money, but it's totally free to hang out. Bring your little ones! This time you won't have to use the classic white lie to get free admission. You know the conversation I'm talking about: "Ok, today, you guys are all 10-years-old, got it?"

Hot From The Sun? Cool Off With Dessert

Asian Festival is mostly outdoors and Ohio's summers can be just as brutal as Ohio's winters. J-Pops are popsicles, but these send your local ice cream truck guy running home to his mom. These gourmet pops come in flavors like lemon basil or watermelon mint. On the other hand, options like Aloha Ice is your stop for shaved ice in a multitude of flavors. And of course, rolled ice cream courtesy of Simply Rolled Ice Cream LLC is your Insta-aesthetic option.

So You Think You Can... Art?

You don't have to be exclusive to being a spectator throughout the weekend, there's plenty of ways to participate. Saturday is loaded from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. with craft-driven activities like Chinese calligraphy at 10 a.m., or paper animal construction at 4 p.m. Sunday keeps this ball rolling with activities like kimono design at 2 p.m.

Step Out Of Your Cuisine Comfort Zone!

The classic American/Midwesterner in you might only think of that takeout joint down the road from your house when you think of Asian cuisine, but I'm here to tell you, you're sorely mistaken and missing out. Asian food spans across many different countries. Do you love Ramen? Ok, admittedly, that's an easy one, but your kids will know it and probably love it* (*no promises, kids are unpredictable).

What about Bahn Mi? Never had it? It's a Vietnamese sandwich that will change your damn life. There's also the opportunity to try the popular Hawaiian dish, poke—a rice bowl that typically features raw fish with veggies and sauces. Even your vegan friends can find a delicious Indian meal from Flavors Of India.

Have A (Tea) Party!

Saturday also plays host to tea tastings for those looking for something new in their mugs. The first of the two is slated earlier in the day while the second will serve as one of the last events to cap off the first day of the festival.

Asian Festival is happening Saturday, June 25 from 10:00AM- 8:00PM and Sunday, June 26 from 10:00AM0 6:00PM at Franklin Park.

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614 Survival Guide: Dime-A-Dog Night

Mitch Hooper



Warmer days are finally here and it's that time of the year everyone can't stop talking about. No, it isn't patio season. We aren't talking about summer festivals, either. We're talking baseball, and more specifically, we're talking hot dogs you can buy for just 10 pennies.

The Columbus Clipper's Dime-A-Dog Night is not only a chance to enjoy America's pastime, it's a chance to test your eating endurance. How many hot dogs can you put down in nine innings? To beer, or to not to beer; that is the potentially bloated question. And you do realize how many dogs you can get for $20 right? That's 200 dogs, dawg!

Surviving this madness, however, is an art unto itself. You can expect longer lines, but everyone is just getting hot dogs so you can also expect them to move relatively quickly. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we are here to help. Here's a six tips to making the most of Dime-A-Dog night.

6.) Bring the Tums, hun

Don't be a hero, bring the anti-acid. Hot dogs are hotbeds for hidden ingredients, and you don't know when one will drop a missile of indigestion upon you. Be prepared, pack the little chalky tablets.

5.) Bring The Little Ones

Dime-A-Dog night is a great way to change up the speed of things throughout your weekdays without having to tank a ton of money into entertainment. Beyond the insanely cheap Sugardale hot dogs, children under the age of 2 get in for free!

4.) Be Early (duh!)

This is a no brainer, but it pays to be in the know. For 7:05 p.m. starts, the gates will open 90 minutes prior to opening pitch. On the other hand for 6:35 p.m. starts, the gates open one hour before opening pitch. Being first in the gates means you have first crack at the fresh hot dogs that weren't made at lightening speed to keep up with orders. This leads me to my next point....

3.) Know The Flow

Dogs at the beginning of the game taste better than dogs later, but there is a Goldie Locks point. At a certain moment during the game, bellies are going to get full and the rush for more food slows down. This is when you should have your second wind. The hot dog slinging has slowed down and the lines aren't nearly as long. Take it easy on the first run through and save some room for dessert: more dime-a-dogs.

2.) Beer: Your Enemy, Or Friend?

This tip is more of a "check yourself before you wreck yourself" thing. For some people, beer is the magical elixir that allows them to devour hot dogs like Joey Chestnut (*not literally). If this is you, you know the fuel to your fire. For other people (me), beer and carbonation fills the stomach too quickly leaving no room for more hot dogs. If this is you, mixed drinks are your happy alternative.

1.) Go Crazy And Buy More Expensive Tickets

#NotAnAd. Seriously, though. Think of the money you'll be saving on dinner (and potentially breakfast the next day if you wear cargo shorts). Two quarters will get you five hot dogs and that's damn near an entire pack from the store. A few extra bucks could be the difference between catching a fly ball and never coming close. Protip: the seats along the third base line are nice, but make sure you bring your shades because that sun set shines directly in your eyes blocking your view... of more hot dogs.

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3 ways to fill Game of Thrones gap until next week

Mitch Hooper



In the world where Netflix has made series available in its entirety for maximum binge-watching, waiting a week for the next episode of Game Of Throne feels something like an eternity. It seems like there's not enough fan theories to dig through, reviews to confirm your beliefs (or send you into spiraling rage), and the famous three words "Winter Is Here" is practically tattooed on your forehead.

Last night's first episode of the final season has taken the world by storm, and here's a few ways to get your fill of GoT until the next episode aires.

Game Of Thrones Pub Quiz at Fado Irish Pub | 4022 Townsfair Way
Monday, April 15, 7:00 PM

So you think you're the smartest fan in the city? Put your money where your mouth is then! Hit up Fado for their quiz night on all things GoT and finally prove all those hours on the fandom wikipedia page were worth it. If you're victorious, you'll win a the King's Feast which is dinner for eight. And $10 specials on buckets of beer is always a win in our books.

Game Of Thrones Night at Ruby Tuesday | 1978 Summit St.
Monday, April 15, 8:00 PM

Let's face it, anyone who doesn't watch the show (AKA most of your co-workers who don't pay for HBO) aren't really looking forward to your Monday morning ramblings recapping the latest episodes. Instead of being avoided at the office, stop by Ruby Tuesday to discuss in-depth all the rumblings and developments in each episode with all your other fellow fans. Your co-workers are already relieved, and Ruby Tuesday will have pizza and beer.

Game Of Thrones Dinner at 101 Beer Kitchen | 7509 Sawmill Rd.
Tuesday, April 16, 6:30 PM

It's a feast fit for royalty at 101 Beer Kitchen as they'll be hosting a large dinner akin to the Purple Wedding—hopefully your name isn't Joffrey Baratheon—for $75 a ticket. Your food and cocktail menu will include specialty GoT-themed entrées and drinks, and it's encouraged to wear a costume so you can have a chance to win prizes!

Looking for more ways to show off your fandom? Check back periodically for an updated look on what Game Of Thrones events and parties are going on in the city.

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