Web Video / Board James

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When Board James is bored, he plays some board games.

Board James is a Cinemassacre Web Original series, created and starred by James Rolfe, famous for his work with the Nerd and the Bullshit Man. You can find the series here.

Board James is a pretty normal guy, a kid at heart who collects a great variety of Board Games as a hobby, and reviews them. Sometimes Board James does his reviews alone, and from time to time he's joined by his vitriolic best bud Motherfucker Mike, who is a bit of a cheater when it comes to playing the games. And when there's a place on the board for an extra player, there's Bad Luck Bootsy, an annoying but friendly guy who is prone to ruining the games and who causes nothing but trouble to James, Mike and himself. The series also gradually develops a bit of a shockingly deep overarching plot as it goes.

It started out as a Spin-Off of The Angry Video Game Nerd, but is now its own series. It follows the same Mid-Review Sketch Show formula that the AVGN helped popularize, but features a much less enraged style of reviewing, often focusing on the good too.

The show was put on hiatus in April 2013 after the Dream Phone episode. According to James, he had plans on continuing the series with a new season, but had fallen behind due to working on the AVGN movie. He promised that more episodes would come, and the promise was fulfilled when the series returned on, of all days, April Fools' Day 2015.

The finale of the third season (not 'period', as it stands) came out on December 4, 2015, and centered around the board game Nightmare of the Atmosfear series while incorporating numerous other board games within it. James Rolfe himself has said that this episode will mark another hiatus for the series just like the Dream Phone episode, and plans on returning to it in the future. (Additionally, he clarifies some of the more confusing aspects of the episode here.)


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     Board Games reviewed (in chronological order) 

Season 1

2009

2010

  • Fireball Island
  • Deadly Danger Dungeon (a homemade board game)
  • HeroQuest
  • Mr. Bucket

Season 2

2010

  • Tornado Rex

2011

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Games
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cowabunga Pizza Toss
    • Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Power
  • Key to the Kingdom
  • Donut Disaster
  • Loopin' Louie
  • Monster Madness
  • Battle Masters
  • Splat!

2012

  • Doggie Doo
  • Shark Attack

2013

  • Dream Phone

Season 3

2015

  • Omega Virus
  • Lie Detector
  • Oujia / Domino Rally
  • Wacky Blasters
  • Full House & Urkel Game
  • Video Game Board Games
  • 13 Dead End Drive
  • Nightmare and Beyond


Tropes:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: In the "Ouija/Domino Rally" episode, James finds himself in one after he completes his ritual. A sun and moon are floating around, there's a giant eye in the darkness, and the green Atari Frankenstein that the Nerd blew up with his Super Scope is in the corner.
    "This is like some kind of crazy acid trip!"
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In a moment in Shark Attack that's either this or Corpsing, Bootsy winds up his middle finger like a jack-in-the-box, humming "Pop goes the Weasel", causing James and Mike to immediately crack up.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Deadly Danger Dungeon
  • All There in the Manual: Some of the games reviewed suffer from this.
    • The Dragonstrike game has its story explained in a movie-like instructional VHS that came with the game.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Quoted in the "Ouija/Domino Rally" episode.
    James: [The Ouija board] is a group effort. It takes all your powers combined, the living, the dead, the powers above, and..the leader, in charge of the game.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Mr. Bucket and the Dream Phone.
  • April Fools' Day: This date in 2013 was the day the Dream Phone episode, the last episode prior to a two-year hiatus, came out. The same date in 2015 marked the return of the series in the Omega Virus episode. Neither of them were pranks.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Motherfucker Mike: What are those tiles? What's up with the bushes? What's the other deck of cards? What are that circle of explosion pieces? How many times can this guy get hit? Can this guy move first or does he attack first? How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop? The world may never know...
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: In-Universe, James says this about Dragonstrike. Whenever he tried to find people to play the game with, they would be put off by the seeming complexity of the rules.
  • Author Appeal: As Mike is a huge fan of Elvis Presley, in the "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode, he makes his first appearance impersonating Elvis. And he does a pretty spot-on performance, too.
  • Back from the Dead: Mike and Bootsy, in the Ouija / Domino Rally episode.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After playing Dream Phone, James points out that it plays like a mystery game. He goes on to draw parallels between it and a murder mystery like Clue.
  • Berserk Button: After the Dream Phone episode, try bringing up James' dead friends and see how he reacts. The Nerd figured this out the hard way.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Bootsy apparently has a past of lovemaking with animals, with a particular fondness for marine life, and is even seen in bed flirting with the shark in the "Shark Attack" episode.
    • According to accusations from one another, James and Mike have indulged in this as well. Though in their case it's probably just meaningless trash talk.
    "I saw you blowing a goat last night!"
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: In the Dream Phone review, after finding Mike dead, James pulls the knife out of his back.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: As seen at the end of the "Shark Attack" episode, James can get really irate when pissed off.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Hilariously subverted when Mike walks in on James being cornered by Mr. Bucket. Instead of helping, Mike becomes Mr. Bucket's new victim as James tells the bucket to attack him instead.
    • Mike does eventually play this trope straight. When James get tag-teamed by Mr. Bucket and the Dream Phone in the "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode, Mike appears and kills them off. While impersonating Elvis, no less.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Dream Phone episode. James manages to defeat the evil Dream Phone, but at the cost of Bootsy and Mike's lives, without even mentioning the effect it had on James.
  • Black Speech: Tons and tons of it in James' ritual in the "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode.
  • A Bloody Mess: In one shot of the "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode, James very clearly uses ketchup to simulate the scenario of him cutting his wrist with a steak knife as part of his ritual.
  • Board Games
  • Body Horror: In the Operation world of the "Nightmare" episode, James reenacts the game by using Mike as the patient, having put a bunch of foreign objects in Mike's body, as shown by the stitches seen when James pulls the sheet back...
  • Book Ends: The second season ends with the first showcase of James' descent into madness, with him making a Nightmare Face that flashes briefly before a sharp cut to black. The third season ends after James has really gone off the rails and has been killed in every game reality shown in the season finale, and a shot of his skeleton underwater surrounded by board games cuts quickly into that same Nightmare Face.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Board James borrows the Nerd's "What a shitload of fuck!" and "What were they thinking?!" At least, borrowing them from himself.
  • Bottomless Pits / Spikes of Doom : Deadly Danger Dungeon is full of them.
    Board James: That's an instant death. You fell in the spikes.
    Motherfucker Mike: But I fell in the spikes already up here.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the review of Dragonstrike there's a moment in which James starts acting as if he was playing the game with a bunch of friends and starts assigning characters to each one, he then points out to the camera and claims "And you'll be the wizard!".
    • A particularly epic version of this happens in Video Games!, which crosses into Painting the Medium, as Board James is harassed and partially aided by the Angry Video Game Nerd. Only for, in the conclusion, Board James just gives up, and walks out of the room, transforming into the Nerd as he enters the 'set' of the Nerd videos...
    • In the Nightmare and Beyond episode, when The Gatekeeper from the game asks extremely specific numbers on the dices, such as the player's age, Board James himself then angrily says "How about looking at the release dates of all the Board James episodes released this year and correspond them to the letters of the Alphabet?". (Which when done, they spell "1313 Dead").
  • Breather Episode: Wacky Blasters which comes after the Ouija / Domino Rally episode seems to return to the old format of the show from seasons 1 and 2 save for a scene where Mike and Bootsy begin to fade away for a moment.
    • "Full House / Urkel Games" and "Video Game Board Games" also count, especially because the episodes that come next are completely darker than any previous episode.
  • Button Mashing: Pretty much the whole Crossfire battle. In a later episode, the curiously one-sided battle takes on an eerie turn...
  • Call Back: Post-hiatus episodes tend to make references to plot twists in episodes prior. For example, the "Video Games" episode (that comes right after The Reveal that Mike and Bootsy are James' imaginary friends) features this line as James reviews Pac-Man:
    "Imagine what it would be like to be trapped for all eternity with two ghosts."
  • The Cameo: Board James makes a Cameo in the TGWTG second anniversary, in which he teaches the characters how to play Risk.
    • In the Loupin' Louie episode, James invites people that were at PAX 2011, including Kevin Finn, A.J. Locascio, Angry Joe, The Happy Video Game Nerd and Pedobear.
    • The Angry Video Game Nerd appears in the Video Games! episode. Complete with James Rolfe switching identity between Board James and the Nerd in the concluding moments...
  • Catch Phrase: Subverted; the first regular episode ("Dragonstrike") has Board James introduce himself with the phrase "Hey! I'm Board James. And when Board James is bored, I play some board games." This is delivered in such a way that it APPEARS to be his opening catchphrase, but he doesn't say it again until the Omega Virus episode as an Ironic Echo, given the circumstances.
    • Board James uses someone else's catchphrases abruptly in Video Games! shortly before he becomes the Nerd.
  • Cat Scare: Multiple times in the Mr. Bucket episode, since you can't really make an effective Jump Scare out of a plastic children's toy.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: It starts as your typical web review show, with Board James being a pretty normal guy, a kid at heart who collects a great variety of board games as a hobby, and reviews them. During the post-hiatus episodes, it starts to become much darker, revealing the true nature of the character in the process.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The crocodile in Forbidden Bridge in the Nightmare episode. It is initially shown when Mike and Bootsy are first on the bridge, and when Bootsy falls and is unharmed, the crocodile is the one to kill him.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Like the other Cinemassacre web originals, the characters from Board James don't shy away from swearing every once in a while.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the Donut Disaster episode, Bootsy is using an eye-patch because of the little accident he had in the Tornado Rex episode.
    • He splashed hot burning coffee all over his face at the end of the Donut Disaster episode, and in the Splat! episode we see him wearing the eye-patch and bandages over his face.
    • In the Dream Phone episode, the person on the other end of the line says for James to guess his name if he had the balls. We can't blame him for seeing if Mr. Bucket was the one stalking him. He wasn't.
    • Again from the Dream Phone episode, Bootsy mentions that his dick was bitten off by a shark. This is a reference to the Shark Attack episode, in which he tried to make love to the plastic shark from the game.
    • In James' appearance in an AVGN episode, the Nerd brings up his dead friends (this is post-''Dream Phone'', mind you) and James leaves in a bout of profane anger.
  • Covers Always Lie: In the episode about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, as the games were more visually attractive and better illustrated the less fun they were.
  • Cower Power: James has his moment of this when Mr. Bucket corners him.
    Board James: Fucking pervert, get away from me! *Mike enters the room* Suck his balls!
    Mr. Bucket: *turns around and attacks Mike* Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!
    Motherfucker Mike: AAAAAAAAAH!!!!
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Doggie Doo dog had this effect on both James and Mike when it first came out of the box.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Mr. Bucket episode, more or less, but without a doubt the Dream Phone episode.
    • All following episodes sort of play with this trope, usually sticking to the normal video style but then having a conclusion pertinent to the overarching plot at hand.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: Done in the "Nightmare" episode with the titular board game, Operation/Hangman, Candyland, Battleship, and Forbidden Bridge.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Monster Madness episode.
  • Dissonant Serenity: James at the end of the "Dream Phone" episode. It is terrifying.
    • James is awfully kind-sounding in "13 Dead End Drive" when he approaches Mike with a noose, asking to reenact the murder.
    "Relax. It's just a game..."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the "Mr. Bucket" episode, we see the bucket joining James in bed, and when James notices the bucket it appears as if he suddenly grew a giant boner that he was terrified of.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: What the twist of the "Dream Phone" episode seemed to hint at was that the phone was the killer, but this was sort of overruled with future information that James killed his friends/there were no friends he had to begin with.
  • Double Entendre: All the time. Guaranteed if there are any balls involved in the game.
    Board James: It's very stimulating cause you're always grabbing the balls underneath your gun. You gotta keep firing and reloading nonstop. But the gun gets jammed all the time.
    Mr. Bucket: I'm Mr. Bucket, pop balls out of my mouth!
  • Downer Beginning: Word of God states that the parts with a long-haired James in jail are the earliest points of the Board James timeline. They show the original universe, where James is a convicted murderer on death row (and reading through board game manuals to reminisce about happier times during childhood).
  • Dramatic Thunder: Used frequently throughout the Mr. Bucket episode: when James finds the bucket under his blankets, when the bucket says that it wants to suck James' balls, and when the bucket is attacking James in the living room.
    • The Monster Madness episode is full of them.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Used in the Weapons and Warriors episode while setting up the game, because glue takes time to dry, and all is going to get fucked up again anyway. He seems to get a bad time keeping the pieces together with the tape, though.
  • Dull Surprise: In the "Dream Phone" episode, James and Mike both have the same reaction to Bootsy's death—a brief period of shock and horror, only to quickly come to accept that he's dead mere moments afterward.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few reviews would have James explaining the game to the audience. When he actually got to the game, Motherfucker Mike would appear as his cheating opponent. Eventually, Mike became much less antagonistic, and the rules of the game would be explained through conversations between James and Mike.
  • Edutainment Show: His reviews may fall into this category, much more than the AVGN ones.
  • Eldritch Location: When Bootsy and Mike are trying to escape, they end up going from the basement to the attick. Word of God explains that Board James's house is like an Ironic Hell that has aspects of various parts of his original life as a murderer.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Motherfucker Mike's middle name is Clarence.
  • Evil Phone: Dream Phone is much more than just a girly game...
  • Episode Title Card: Drawn by no other than Mike Matei, as with the AVGN.
  • Evil Laugh: James gives an extremely unnerving chuckle at the end (directly to the camera, no less) after quoting Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Eye Scream: Bad Luck Bootsy, which is why he dons an eyepatch. At the end of the Tornado Rex review, where he sends Tornado Rex flying, bouncing off walls, and into his own eye.
  • The Faceless: Board James in the first episode. Probably to keep ambiguous whether if the narrator was the Nerd or not.
  • Fan Sequel: When he was a kid, James made a board game based on Street Fighter II... and tired of waiting for the actual sequel, he made another one based on his own imaginary version of Street Fighter III. One of the characters was ''Dracula''.
  • Filk Song: A staple of the series.
  • Flashback: A very humorous one with James and Mike remembering all the times Bootsy has screwed up their fun.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • See Be Careful What You Wish For above.
    • In the "Video Games" episode if you pause the video just right around 1:08 you can see an image of Mike and Bootsy just as Board James is explaining being trapped for eternity with two ghosts.This foreshadows the reveal in "Board James Mythology Explained" that they have alredy died, and each death just sends them deeper into an another boardgame.
    • During James' Ouija ritual in "Ouija/Domino Rally", we see three board games summoning the people on their covers: Elvis, Rodney Dangerfield, and Vincent Price. Mike and Bootsy eventually appear as Elvis and Rodney Dangerfield. At the end, Board James starts behaving similar to Vincent Price.
    • In the "13 Dead End Drive" episode, James traps Mike and Bootsy in his basement by sealing off all escape routes with jail cell bars. The Stinger of the episode has James in a jail cell.
  • Gainax Ending:
    • The "Shark Attack" episode, which ends after James reaches a Rage Breaking Point, yells at Mike and Bootsy, and then leaves. Not counting The Stinger, which still doesn't make much sense.
    • The "Omega Virus" episode, which has the big reveal that there are multiple Jameses playing at once. Then another James comes in and kills them all, revealing the duplicates to be robotic doppelgangers.
    • The "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode ends with James successfully bringing Mike and Bootsy back from the dead. When he tries to question them about the Dream Phone incident, they try to calm him down, stating that the incident never needs to be discussed again. Their statements of "never again" gradually turn into "nevermore", which leads to James creepily uttering the "Quoth the raven, nevermore" line from The Raven before performing an unnerving chuckle.
    • The "Full House / Do the Urkel" episode ends with James coming to the realization that he didn't murder his friends. After all, you can't murder people who never existed to begin with.
    • The ending for the "Video Games" episode, beginning when James yells "What were they thinking?!" After a beat, he looks into the mirror and sees The Angry Video Game Nerd, who tells him "You know who you are. You're a nerd. You'll always be a nerd. A video game nerd." At this point, he nods, and shortly thereafter changes his outfit into that of the Nerd's, leaving his room and entering the Nerd's trademark set, all while an electronic version of his theme plays.
    • The 13 Dead End Drive episode ends with Mike getting arrested by James, and when he tries to hang Mike he ends up hanged himself by Mike in a form of self-defense. Bootsy then hangs Mike, and then he ends up accidentally hanging himself. Afterwards the episode ends showing James in prison reading a bunch of board game manuals, being shushed by fellow inmates Mike and Bootsy.
    • The Nightmare episode, because so many subplots were unfolding simultaneously that all of the characters' fates are somewhat vague. Even with the Mind Screwdriver James provided, it was meant to not give a concrete answer and have fans theorize or conclude for themselves.
  • GASP!: In the Dream Phone episode when James finds Bootsy's corpse.
  • Genius Ditz:
    Bad Luck Bootsy: *picks up a card* Buy books and supplies, pay 5,000 dollars, I already did that shit ten years ago in college!
    Board James: ...You have a college degree?
    Bad Luck Bootsy: [as if it's the most obvious thing in the world] Bioengineering.
  • Go Mad Fromthe Isolation: Spending two years hiding out in an attic has not been good for Board James' sanity.
  • Guide Dang It: While playing Battle Masters, Board James had to check the manual before attempting any move. And even with the manual at hand, the rules were way too complicated and confusing, to the point that Mike ended up giving up.
  • Grand Finale: The Dream Phone episode appeared to be this, considering it was the final episode before a long hiatus, but the show continued exactly two years later with the Omega Virus episode. James has confirmed that he will continue to make new episodes.
    • Played straighter with the Nightmare episode, which is the final planned episode by James and the season finale. Even still, Word of God has stated that it is possible he will make new episodes down the line.
  • Groin Attack: Mr. Bucket always goes for the balls.
    • And in The Stinger from the Shark Attack video, Bad Luck Bootsy is on the receiving end of one from the shark. He now dons a hook on his crotch.
  • Halloween Episode: 13 Dead End Drive
  • Having a Gay Old Time: Discussed with the Mr. Bucket advert, which uses the unfortunate phrase "balls pop out of my mouth" as a slogan, which has gained controversy, understandably.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: From the Mr. Bucket episode.
    Mr. Bucket: I wanna suck on your balls!
    James (throwing plastic balls): You mean plastic balls! These kind!
    Mr. Bucket: No, I mean balls! Testicles! Scrotum! Gonads! Family jewels! Bollocks! Cojones! Balls!
  • Hurricane of Puns: While beating up the titular phone in the "Dream Phone" episode, James spits out a slew of pre- and post-mortem one liners.
  • I Know Your True Name: Whoever is calling James on the Dream Phone challenges him to guess his name, asking only yes-or-no questions. It turns out to be the phone itself, and even though James figures it out, it still doesn't give him any power over it.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y:
    Bad Luck Bootsy: I like my coffee like I like my women... [takes a sip]] ...WITH MY DICK IN IT!
  • Internal Homage:
    • Board James describes playing Shark Attack as "easy-peasy-monkey-cheesy!"
    • According to James, Board James saying "Oh well, he's dead" after he finds Bootsy hanging in the closet in the "Dream Phone" episode is a reference to the same line being used in his short film Death Puppy.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Mr. Bucket's childish jingle.
  • It Won't Turn Off: Poor Board James swears he turned off Mr. Bucket before going to sleep...
    James: This doesn't make sense, I turned you off!
    • The same thing happens with the Dream Phone.
  • Kill 'em All: How "13 Dead End Drive" ends. Mike hangs James, Bootsy hangs Mike, and then Bootsy accidentally hangs himself.
  • Kudzu Plot: A scene in the "13 Dead End Drive" episode is based around Mike and Bootsy questioning James about how the game's admittedly quite convoluted plot plays out.
  • Laugh Track: Throughout the "Full House / Urkel Games" episode, much to James' chagrin.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted. Unlike the Nerd, James wears a different shirt and baseball cap in each episode; however, they're always related to video games, comics or movies.
  • Live Episode: The "Loupin' Louie" episode was recorded live at PAX 2011.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: Some of the board games, particularly Heroquest and Battle Masters (and how!), which were made by the same creators by the way.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Deadly Danger Dungeon. Even playing the fan-retooled version that's actually beatable will kill you over and over and over...
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics to Bootsy's upbeat Chipmunks-style Candyland song are actually pretty grim.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: After the fact. James calls Bootsy during the Dream Phone video. When he says that Bootsy can probably get to his house pretty fast, Bootsy casually mentions that he got his dick bit off by a shark recently, so it might take him a few. But he'll try to speed walk.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: "You know who you are. You're a nerd. You'll always be a nerd. A Video Game Nerd."
  • Me's a Crowd: The "Omega Virus" episode. It is hinted at with the three different camera angles we see in the video back-to-back-to-back, and then it is revealed that there are three different James clones playing the game, as well as a fourth that kills them all.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    Bad Luck Bootsy: I like my coffee like I like my women... [takes a sip] ...WITH MY DICK IN IT!
  • Microwave the Dog: James kills the Dream Phone by stuffing it in the microwave and heating it until it explodes.
  • Mind Screw: This entire series becomes this after the Dream Phone episode, as the show goes from one interpretation as to what's going on to another in almost no time. The episode that takes the cake though is Episode 27, in which 13 Dead End Drive, Nightmare, Operation/Hangman, Candyland, Forbidden Bridge, and Battleship are all played in an Inception style "Game within a Game", with no clear answer as to what's going on.
  • Mind Screwdriver: The Board James Mythology Explained video, for Episode 27, although not completely. James still says it's up to the viewers to put the pieces together or make up their own minds.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: After James realizes his true identity, his reflection in the mirror is that of the Nerd.
  • Montages: Frequently, and usually while a self-made "theme song" for the game plays.
    • One appears in the "Donut Disaster" video when James recalls all the previous times Bad Luck Bootsy ruined their board games with his bad luck.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The Dream Phone episode goes from your average Board James episode to a murder mystery!
    • The Shark Attack episode looks like it'll just be standard routine, but then Bootsy briefly lashes out at Mike, saying "Fuck you, you motherfuckin' piece of shit!" in a deadly serious tone of voice (to which James and Mike react with shock) before switching back to his normal zaniness. The episode continues like a regular Board James episode, with Bootsy being weird and Mike cheating at the game, until James suddenly gives a Reason You Suck Speech to Mike and Bootsy with a level of rage normally reserved for the Nerd, before storming off. And then the episode switches back to crazy again with the Shark Attack song playing over the credits and Bootsy getting a Groin Attack from the game's shark in The Stinger.
    • The Ouija / Domino Rally episode starts off darkly, with an agitated James screaming at the Ouija board regarding the deaths of his friends only to get no response. Then he notices Domino Rally and immediately cheers up, gushing over and playing with the game...up until the Ouija pointer suddenly flies into James's dominoes, at which point it swings right back into darkness with the Ouija board.
  • Multiple Endings: The "Lie Detector" video has the Fight Promoter from the game accuse James of killing Mike and Bootsy, saying he was hallucinating all of the supernatural things happening, and dares James to put him in the lie detector to see if he's telling the truth. Annotations pop up linking to a "True" ending where he is telling the truth, and a "False" ending where he isn't. Although they both end up being pretty much the same as James refuses to believe that the Fight Promoter is telling the truth, and in both endings he vows to get to the bottom of what's been happening.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Board James narrates his games as if they were epic adventures, and not just a man moving figurines across a cardboard board. Frequent use of the Hitler Cam helps with this.
    • In the Dragonstrike review James tells about how he used to get very excited with the introductory video because it presents the game as something seriously epic, then when the video ended, he turned around to actually start playing and discovered that everybody had left the room out of boredom.
    Board James: ...And that's what happens.
    • In the Heroquest episode, Board James spends a considerable amount of time setting up the board as he explains the game mechanics, and after he dramatically reads the instructions for the first quest, Motherfucker Mike is so bored he asks to play another thing, much to James's annoyance.
    • In the Loopin' Louie episode, the music and the way the video was edited makes the game look really fun and dynamic. In the behind the scenes it seems like it could get a little tedious after a while.
  • Myth Arc: at first the series was just an episodic collection of board game reviews, but James eventually created a single overarching storyline which retroactively applies to even the earliest episodes. To sum up, Board James was a murderer sentenced to death before the series stated, and what we're seeing is him wandering through the afterlife, which takes form from the board games he played as a child and is shaped by his own subconscious. Mike and Bootsy are poor souls trapped in there with him, subject to his whims and murderous tendencies until they realize they can stop him.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: In the "Nightmare" episode, Bootsy gets killed by a crocodile in Forbidden Bridge.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The Deadly Danger Dungeon board.
  • Nintendo Hard: The difficulty level of the original Deadly Danger Dungeon game.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: In the "Nightmare" episode, this is everyone's fate in the Forbidden Bridge world. Mike hits his head on a rock, Bootsy is perfectly fine after the fall but is then attacked by a crocodile, and James lands on his own spear that he accidentally dropped earlier, which didn't land pointy end in, but pointy end up.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • James in the Dream Phone episode when he realizes who the killer is.
    • Mike in the Nightmare episode when while playing Battleship, he launches a torpedo but then realizes it's headed straight for Bootsy's ship.
  • Parody Episode: The Mr. Bucket episode is a parody of horror movies. The Dream Phone episode, on the other hand, aims for genuine scares.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Bad Luck Bootsy?!"
  • Platform Hell: A game he made as a kid, Deadly Danger Dungeon, can be summed up as Board Game Hell. In May 2010, it got made into a Platform Hell video game. The original was scanned shortly afterward. Here.
  • Plot Coupon: Present in some of the adventure Board Games, but played for laughs in the Deadly Danger Dungeon episode.
    Motherfucker Mike: I gotta get the key before the talisman and then I gotta go forward and then go back and then climb a ladder and then fuck in...
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The way Board James started. The first episode was only called "Cinemassacre's Board Game Review". The narrator can be seen wearing a white shirt, much like how the Nerd always has white shirts, although he's not as angry as he usually is. James Rolfe's wedding ring (which he never wears while playing the Nerd) can be seen on his left hand in some of the scenes, suggesting that the reviewer was James Rolfe himself and not his Nerd persona. The animated title card at the end also shows him wearing glasses, which Board James is never seen with.
    • "The Making of Board James" reveals that the first video is just James doing a review as himself. When they decided to make more board game reviews, they created the character of Board James.
  • The Prankster: One of the home-made games that appear in the Deadly Danger Dungeon episode is called "Mischief Night", and it's about a guy who plays pranks on his neighbors, the pranks went from throwing toilet paper in a yard to blocking someone's front door with bricks and cement.
  • Precision F-Strike: Bootsy's first two songs ("Tornado Rex" and "Donut Disaster") have one right at the very end. In "The Making of Board James", James says that he told Bootsy to do this so that the viewers would know that they weren't the actual songs from the commercials. It didn't always work, and many people commented on the videos along the lines of "I can't believe they got away with airing this on TV back in the day!". Maybe that's why the third song, used in "Shark Attack", actually is the song from the commercial (or rather, a cover version done by Bootsy).
    • Board James's breakdown in Shark Attack. Despite the character's tendency to swear often, this time it was strong enough to take Mike aback.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The "Mouse Trap" review uses two classical pieces: "Blue Danube Waltz" and "Marriage of Figaro".
  • Rage Breaking Point / "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Board James always plays the nice guy who tolerates Bootsy's oddness and is oblivious to Mike's cheating, but even he had enough and cracked, reaching the AVGN's levels of rage, after Bootsy took his Toy Shark to fuck it.
    Board James: C'mon—really, guys? This is a really simple fucking game. Why can we just play a fucking board game? (Mike laughs) IT'S NOT FUCKING FUNNY! Like, this is the most dysfunctional group of friends I ever had! You're over there cheating, you're over there—making love with the damn shark! I'm bored, I wanna play a fucking board game—you're fucking pissing me off!! FUCK YOU GUYS!! WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR GUYS' FUCKING PROBLEM?! FUCK!!
  • Rasputinian Death: Both the Dream Phone and Mr. Bucket. The phone somehow survived being blown up inside of a microwave, and reappears in the "Ouija / Domino Rally" episode to be re-killed by Elvis Mike. Mr. Bucket was drowned in his episode, and reappeared in the same episode to also be killed by the same person.
    • Justified: James brought Mike and Bootsy Back from the Dead, and accidentally brought Mr. Bucket and the Phone back too. Plus, the next episode established that James is completely nuts and has been hallucinating since "Crossfire" anyway.
  • Real After All: Mike and Boosty might be real. We're not sure, but if they are they're James's cell mates in a maximum-security prison.
  • Red Herring: See Something Only They Would Say.
  • Rule of Symbolism: It seems rather correlative that things in the Dream Phone episode start getting more twisted after James walks through a door with a poster on it that reads "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE TWILIGHT ZONE".
  • Sanity Slippage: Many believe that James is going through this over the course of the series. It starts with "Mr. Bucket", which ends with James graphically and disturbingly drowning the bucket in a sink. Then came the end of the "Shark Attack" episode, where he reaches a Rage Breaking Point and yells at his friends for fucking up everything. Everything culminated with "Dream Phone", where a popular idea is that James was the real killer, not the phone; an idea that was acknowledged but deliberately left vague until the "Full House / Do the Urkel" episode, where it's revealed that there was no slippage. James was insane all along and his friends never existed to begin with.
  • The Scream: In the Dream Phone episode, when James finds Mike's corpse.
  • Sequel Hook: Both endings to "Lie Detector" have James say that he's going to get to the bottom of all the supernatural events that have happened to him. One ending suggests that he is going to summon the ghosts of Mike and Bootsy.
    • At the end of Angry Video game Nerd's 2015 Halloween special, he promises to Board James that he will have a Halloween special after Halloween. Cue 13 Dead End Street released on November 1, 2015.
  • Serious Business:
    • The reviews about adventure games usually describe them as being really epic experiences.
      • Some of the games between Motherfucker Mike and Board James can get very intense.
      • The Dragonstrike VHS really talks about the game as a serious business.
    Narrator: Feeling brave tonight? Brave enough to do battles with hideous monsters? (...) Brave enough to sneak around castles in the dark and chance being the next victim?
    Board James: Wow, wow. I'm just trying to play a board game, I'm not looking for any trouble.
    • James is very insistent that Bootsy & Mike follow the Full House and Do the Urkel games' rules (for example, by telling a "Joey Joke" and getting an extra turn in the former, instead of just taking the extra turn).
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: The Monster Madness episode is a promotion for James Rolfe's other project Monster Madness.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To the AVGN's catchphrase, in the Deadly Danger Dungeon episode when he's playing his own games full of Fake Difficulty.
    Board James: What was I thinking?!
  • Silly Walk: Bad Luck Bootsy's funny little jumps, set to sound effects from Punch-Out!!.
  • Slasher Smile: James does one at the end of the Dream Phone episode. Its Dissonant Serenity and its hinting that James has gone crazy makes it all the more unsettling.
  • Something Completely Different: Compare a regular Board James episode to the Dream Phone episode.
  • Something Only They Would Say:
    • The person calling James on the Dream Phone challenges him to guess his name "if you've got the balls, and I know you've got the balls!". This leads James to suspect Mr. Bucket as the culprit, but upon finding Mr. Bucket still dead in the sink where James left him, it's revealed that the person on the phone (actually the phone itself) purposely invoked this trope just to mess with him.
    Dream Phone: Come on! You can do better than that!
    • Attention has been brought to how the Dream Phone says "I just want to play a game", which is a line that was previously used by James at the end of "Shark Attack".
    • In Episode 25, James himself screams "What were they thinking?!", causing him to realize that he's just a Split Personality of The Angry Video Game Nerd.
  • Special Guest: There was a whole array of them in the "Loopin' Louie" episode.
    • Board James himself also appears on the Nerd's "AVGN Games" episode, strangely happy and jovial as usual as if he hadn't almost died and then lost his mind, where he talks about an AVGN Monopoly game with him. When asked about why he isn't in jail, he says he used a get out of jail free card. What? Anyway, he still blames the episode's events on the phone and says that he's completely innocent. Hmm...
    • The Nerd later became a special guest, himself, in Episode 25, where he decries board games based on video games until The Reveal shows Board James to be a Split Personality of the Nerd, himself.
  • Spin-Off: Board James first episode was only called "Board game review" as part of the Nerd videos, but later Board James became its own character.
    • Though, not entirely related to Board James, there are the 'Motherfuckin Mondays', a review show with Motherfucker Mike as the lead.
  • Spiritual Successor: Of the AVGN. Board James is not near as ill-tempered and foul-mouthed as The Nerd, but some of his solo episodes are very reminiscent of the more informative episodes of the AVGN, like the Swordquest episode.
  • Split Personality: In episode 25 that deals with board games based on video games, it's indicated that Board James is the Angry Video Game Nerd. The Nerd seems to be the "true" personality, and seems to be aware of his condition. Board James, not so much.
  • Split Personality Takeover/Split-Personality Merge: The Nerd spends an episode coaxing James into swearing up a storm at a bunch of shitty video-game-based board games, until he starts using more creative swears like the Nerd uses, and eventually drops one of the Nerd's catchphrases: "What were they thinking?!". At that point, James realizes who/what he really is and puts on the Nerd's Iconic Outfit, and leaves the board game storage room for the Nerd's room where he starts playing an NES.
  • Stock Monsters: The characters of the Monster Madness game: the Mummy, the Werewolf, the Frankenstein's monster and Dracula.
  • Story Arc: Introduced in season 3 after being propelled by the game-changing "Dream Phone" episode.
    • Myth Arc: According to his Board James Mythology Explained video, there's an even bigger arc that does span the entire series.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: As Motherfucker Mike and Board James play Crossfire, random explosions start appearing around them, just like in the TV ad for the game.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Bootsy gets offed in this manner in the "Dream Phone" episode.
  • Super Drowning Skills: From Battle Masters episode:
    Motherfucker Mike: What the fuck? You can't go on the water? What is this, Simon's Quest?
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: In the Dream Phone episode, Board James is receiving calls from someone who appears to be able to see his every movement, even when he hides in the closet.
  • The Oner: The entire shot of Board James transforming into the Angry Video Game Nerd never pans away from him from when he moves from backstage in Board James to the filming location of the Nerd videos, showing they're literally walking distance apart.
  • The Television Talks Back: Much to James surprise, the narrator in the Dragonstrike VHS can talk directly to him at some points.
    Board James: I'm turning this off. *aproaches TV*
    Narrator: Do not turn the VCR off yet!
    Board James: Oh shit. *scared*
  • The Reveal: Board James is the Angry Video Game Nerd.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: In the "Ouija/Domino Rally" episode, James is seen consulting the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: "Lie Detector" presents the possibility that James had been hallucinating all of the supernatural events that happened to him.
    • "Full House/Urkel Game" confirms it, then takes it Up to Eleven by showing that Mike and Bootsy are hallucinations too, and always have been, even before "Dream Phone".
  • Toilet Humor:
    • In the Dragonstrike episode, the listing of all the types of "crap" (actually "trap" written in a medieval font, with the T looking an awful lot like a C).
    • The entirety of the Doggie Doo episode.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Lie Detector episode hints at this, as James' recollection of drowning Mr. Bucket is different from what was actually shown. In the Mr. Bucket episode, Mike looks at Mr. Bucket with a disturbed expression and says, "Dude, what the fuck?! What the fuck is going on?". In Lie Detector, Mike looks at James with a disturbed expression and says, "What are you doing?! It's just a toy! Are you fucking crazy?!". It's unclear which of these scenarios (if either of them) is what actually happened.
  • Video Review Show: Leans very heavily on the show end of the Sliding Scale of Review vs. Show.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: After consuming massive amounts of Play-Doh, Bad Luck Boosty marathon vomits it out. Thankfully we don't see it.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Dream Phone episode. We shouldn't even have to explain why by this point.
    • Lie Detector, which starts out normally but then is revealed to be a continuation of the narrative from "Dream Phone", where he imagines that all of the people on the game cards are accusing him of the murder. Then the attention gets turned to the viewer, who is asked to pick between "true" or "false" as to whether James is the killer, which takes them to two separate videos.
    • In the Ouija / Domino Rally episode, Mike and Bootsy are brought back to life...but something seems very, very off about the way they reassure him that nothing is wrong.
    • The end of the Full House & Urkel Game implies that Mike and Bootsy never really existed and that James was insane all along.
    • And then they top that in the next episode by revealing that James never existed either and was a Split Personality of the Angry Video Game Nerd all along.
    • This goes off the rails entirely when it's possibly revealed that James, Mike, and Bootsy are all in prison, and the series to this point may have been All Just a Dream. Maybe.
  • Wham Line:
    • From "Dream Phone".
    Board James: I'M IN THE CLOSET! HOW CAN YOU SEE ME?
    Dream Phone: Well, you sure got a hold on me!
    • From "Full House / Do the Urkel"
    "You don't need to pretend. It's okay not to have any friends..."
    • From the "Video Game Board Games" episode, a certain phrase regarding The Reveal:
    • And then to really drive it home:
    AVGN: "You'll always be a nerd...a video game nerd."
  • Wham Shot:
    • The ending of "Dream Phone", where James starts exhibiting insanity via Dissonant Serenity.
    • The end of the "Full House / Do the Urkel" episode: When James's friends tell him he never had friends to begin with, a flashback is shown of James playing Crossfire and yelling at Mike, except Mike was not there at all. Cut back to the present day, where James finds himself alone, realizing that Mike and Bootsy never existed.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebVideo/BoardJames