Episode 72: Viva Los Juegos

72: Viva Los Juegos

Release Date: Feb. 16, 2009

Running Time: 119 min.

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No pasarán! From building towers of people in Catalonia to manning the barricades in Madrid, we play España 1936 and Castellers, two games from Brazilian publisher Devir.

News & Notes: LEGO Board Games, Keltis  & Pandemic Expansions, Space Alert 
The List: España 1936, Castellers
Back Shelf Spotlight:  Papillons, Dancing Eggs
Truckloads of Goober:  Kamisado
Game Sommelier:  Five games you can lose pieces but not ruin the game
Mail Bag: Puzzle game suggestion, Flying Turtle correction

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Game News & Notes

LEGO Announces Board Game Series  Link

Backed by designs from Dr. Reiner Knizia, LEGO is releasing a series of ten board games later this year (August).  Titles include: Ramses Pyramid, Creationary, Baugeschick, Minotaurus, RoboChamp, Magikus, Lava Dragon, Race 3000, and Lunar Command Pirate. The games will be released in August and will cost between 10-35 euros. Sorry Americans, the games will only be available in Europe.

Keltis Expansions  Link

The Spiel Des Jahres winner has spawned a new generation of expansions and sibling games. Yes, the board game version of the card game Lost Cities is turning back into a Keltis themed card game. They might be trying to milk this one a little too much...

Pandemic: On The Brink Expansion BGG

On the Brink adds new roles, new variants, and new diseases to the game. Some new roles include the Archivist, The Generalist and the Bio-Terrorist. That's right, you can even play against this role while fighting the game itself. Variants include mutations, 5th player rules, new special events to add to the game. A 5th disease can be added to the game under some variants. What's cool is that you can mix and match the variants, rules, roles, etc.

Space Alert Coming to America Link

CGE announced that Rio Grande Games will be distributing its 2008 hit Space Alert in the US. If everything goes as planned, it will be available in the first half of April.

The List

España 1936 Official Site | BGG

Rewrite or recreate history as you decide the outcome of the Spanish Civil War.

Castellers Official Site | BGG

Stack your people wisely, paying attention to color and numbers on your wooden castellers.

Castellers Video

Back Shelf Spotlight

Papillons Official Site | BGG

Try to arrange a layout of butterfly cards to match your secret goal.

Dancing Eggs Official Site | BGG

Drop, snatch or run to collect your eggs. Then, balance them on your shoulder, chin or head according to the roll of the dice. First person to drop an egg ends the round.

Truckloads of Goober

Kamisado Official Site | BGG

Colorful abstract strategy game with dragon towers and rings.

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: five games you can lose several components and the game is still playable.

Go - BGG

Bausack -  BGG

Ta Yu -  BGG

Mancala -  BGG

Tantrix -  BGG

New Challenge: five games with Spanish designers or publishers.

Mail Bag

Dave owns up to his goof. There is, in fact, no new version of Shark from Flying Turtle. Thanks to Donald Dennis (of On Board Games) for catching the mistake!

Thanks for all the great puzzle game suggestions: Set, Situation 4, Orbit, (*corrected by bran below; thanks bran!) Einfach Genial Knoblespass, Tantrix, and Krypto.

Tim Shippert has created an online version of the dice/puzzle game Bongo. Check it out!

Ken Maher is offering his entire game design library to download FOR  FREE! Here's the site.

Become a fan of The Spiel on Facebook.


The background image for theis episode is a poster from the Spanish Civil War era announcing a village ball being held despite the hostilities. Link  Other posters featured in the enhanced version are also posted at The Visual Front. and here.

War songs included in the show:

Republican: No Pasaran! and Quinto Regimento Link

Nationalist: Cara al Sol (Face the Sun), La Centuria "Ruiz de Alda"

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Chronology

Spanish Civil War Wiki


I'm sure there are some goofs in there somewhere. Let us know if (when?) you find one!

Devir has offices and a large presence in Spain, but the company is actually Brazilian.


Good first Spanish podcast! :o)

You can find stickers for the back of the Castellers figures in the Devir web. I also think they are absolutely needed to play in a more comfortable way!

¡Nos jugamos!

Gracias, JESS. And thanks for the info about the stickers!

That eliminates the memory aspect we mentioned during the show, but it also would make the game more strategic since you will know what colors your opponent is collecting.

The Ingenious Puzzle is named: Einfach Genial Knobelspass and is located via the link.

The link's url: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/32025

I forgot to post the links for the puzzle game suggestions. Thanks for catching that. I have updated the show notes accordingly.

Knoblespass looks really interesting!

It was really cool to hear the segment on Espana 1936. This one keeps popping onto my radar, but I keep forgetting about it again. This time I added it to my wish list, as it sounds like it has a neat combination of mechanics, and I like the less travelled themes.

It would move up higher on my list if I could find Vassal or (preferably) Cyberboard/ACTS support for it. I thought I saw a Spanish Vassal module - I'll keep my eyes peeled for something.

I tend to like wargames that emphasize tactics over mastery of a complicated set of mechanics. Espana 1936 definitely fits in this category. The movement and general deployment systems are well thought out. The use of event cards also adds a series of tough decisions on every turn (which way to use them: as actions or as combat modifiers).

I happen to know that Mr. Cyberboard himself, Dale Larson, listens to the show pretty regularly. We might be able to roust him out and see if he knows of anyone working on Espana 1936.

Now that I am all the way through the episode, I wanted to make another comment.

I really liked the theme to the show this week. Certainly boardgaming is not isolated to a few countries, and it was neat to hear about games that not only originated in Spain, but represented Spanish history and culture.

I am afraid you might have set yourself up for a long run - there are a lot of countries in the world :)

As a side note, on my weekly trip to the library yesterday I saw a book titled 'Guernica: A Novel'. It took me a few seconds to think of why the name rang a bell, but when I figured it out I immediately picked it up. We'll see how it is. A good book will push me towards a game purchase as much as anything :)

We might have just found a spin-off from The Spiel....

Around the World in 80 Games. :) That would fit very well with my travel video show highlighting regional games and history from around the globe. Hmmm. You've got me thinking. And that's a dangerous thing!

I'm the same way with books and games. It definitely works both ways for me. Sometimes it's the game that really gets me interested in a subject or period. Glad to know I am not alone.

great show (so far, still only half way through) !

Around the World in 80 Games sounds like a top idea - I love the context that you are adding to the games and the diversity of thought that you, and the whole Spiel community, bring to the table.

If I may go a little tangential now (you knew I would).

Over at another games podcast forum page, I was pulled up by one of the presenters for going "off topic" (I think I started talking about cricket and the Aussie vs Pom rivalry).

There was a comment along the lines of  "ahem, we were talking about game x". I can never imagine that happening at Spiel Central because I think everyone, here, displays a wider interest than just in the game and it's mechanics. I really appreciate that, because the gamer tag threatens to diminish us all and place us in neat little boxes that belies our wider identification as individuals with lives that extend beyond the game board.

Not said that very well. Tired after a week on the ski slopes. Hope you get my drift.

Another thought before I go and listen some more. Does anyone know of any good 'history' podcasts ? I'm finding a renewed interest in the topic and it occured to me that this might be a rich area for interesting podcast material.

Hi guys,

Tried to find you on facebook but when I searched "The Spiel" I got the page of some church group. Maybe it's just me.

 I liked  your coverage of Espana 1936. It seems like it would be a good fast paced wargame.

On the nitpicking front. When doing your historical lead-in you should be a bit careful about letting your politcal leanings show through. The Republicans were not "leftist" or "progressive". They were communist. I was amused by your struggle to avoid using that term.  Also, the forcible redistribution of wealth or land by government agencies doesn't sound like "a great idea" to all of us.

In any case, love the show. You guys do a bang up job.


Thanks for the feedback.

There's a link to the Facebook page in the show notes above.

Concerning any political leanings, I framed the conflict as the opening act in what would soon become a global struggle between Fascism and Communism. There's no reluctance on my part to use the term when appropriate.

There were certainly Communists involved in the Republican side. I am by no means an expert on the subject but from my readings, the Republican "movement" (as such) was a complete hodge-podge of leftist organizations including anarchists and many international trade unions and volunteers that had their own ideas on how to run things. In other words, the Republican side was anything but unified under a single leftist philosophy or agenda.

I think there is always an issue when you try to apply labels to such a complex cauldron of interests. Calling the Republicans "Communists" is as much of an over generalisation as calling the Nationalists "Fascists".

As you point out the Replublicans were an uneasy alliance of a number of left leaning organisations which included a number of Communist sympathisers. But equally, those supporting the "nationalist" side were not all Fascists - there was the Church, disaffected Monarchists and those who were simply disenfranchised by the over extending reforms.

I seem to remember that Miss Jean Brodie was a big fan of the Nationalists.

Overall I felt you got the balance and the language about right.

This game has been on and off my radar for quite a while as well. My appetite is well and truly whetted. Bring on the anchovies.

Good point, reminding us that the Nationalists weren't a monolithic organized force either.

The first play I was in as a young actor was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Haven't thought about her in quite some time...

Anchovies, for sure. But don't forget a good bottle of Rioja or a big pitcher of sangria.

Once again proving that the more you talk about the background of the game, the more interesting the game itself becomes and I urge you not to be swayed by listeners who complain about either length or "leanings".  (Having heard the podcast,  I have to say that to me that comment seems to speaks more for the sensitivity of the poster than the content. But that might just be my own leanings talking. Even so, one has to wonder what he made of the election episode.)

As to the concept of the Spiel round the world tour, I think this sounds great! There are some terrific games coming out of France right now- Himalaya leaps to mind-  and as the birthplace of Risk, Stratego and arguably playing cards (there's some wrangling on that last one), it seems to have enough cred to be a possible future destination. I'd also be curious about what goes on these days in China, the inventors of Go, Chess and Mah Jonng.

When it is evident that the history or theme of the game has had a direct impact on the designer, I think understanding that context gives us a new way to appreciate a game.

Of course the flip side is that a game can be trashed for promising a certain theme and failing to deliver. When designers try to evoke a specific period or genre, it's an open invitation for a player to judge how well they carry that theme through the course of play.

I hope giving a little context to games that emphasize theme or history, puts Spielers in a position to decide which ones stand or fall on their own merits.

As for the globe trotting Spiel editions, stay tuned! I have a good friend who travels often to Taiwan and Japan and I have sent him out on scouting missions with little success. Any listeners on the ground in Asia want to help clue me in?

I thought Chess was commonly agreed to have its origins in India ?

Shrantraj or something ? It then spread West to become Chess, and East to become Xiang Qi (Chinese Chess) and finally Shogi (Japanese Chess).

I believe the Japanese also dispute the origins of Go.

Oh, and while we're arguing over such things, Stratego is nothing more than a rip off of the English game L'Attaque which predates it by a good few decades. [cf a previous comment around Othello being nothing more than a rebranding of Reversi].

The roots of the game tree are twisted indeed. There has to be some fantastic material there for a "games history" podcast.

I think we can all agree on the origins of CopperTwaddle though ;-)

Dang, another good idea for a show! Actually it goes well with the video series I'm developing right now. It will bring in elements of all of the above.

I owe my fascination with history to a pal and former teacher, Lou Meek. He's obsessed with history and is quite a character. I've been thinking lately about seeing if he might be interested in doing a show on history. Too many subjects, not enough time!

I'llget him started on Coppertwaddle and see how he fares...

... this has to be one of the best show titles you guys have come up with.


Sometimes we struggle with titles. This one, I knew the minute we decided to do the Spanish theme. I sort of wish I had been able to work in a little Elvis music in the closing credits...

Oh I should have known better to start messing about with ancient games while away from my bookcase. My go-to source for this sort of thing is usually David Parlett's Oxford History of Board Games (run, dear friends, do not walk to your nearest bookstore or library) and as far as chess goes, you're quite right, I should have taken that one step further back to India. With Go, however, he seems more certain even if the Japanese do not, although there are apparently differences in the Japanese version of the game and that is the one more commonly played today. Both my sources and Wikipedia however do credit  L'Attaque, the forerunner of Stratego, to one Mdm. Hermance Edan in France in 1908. But BGG seems to list a different and indeed British designer for a game by the same title, which makes one wonder why the French title. For the moment, I'm still giving that one to the madame, but there does indeed appear to be some contention.

did you know that Al Gore invented Monopoloy as well as the Internet ?

Hey guys,

Great show as always.  Somehow I always feel smarter after listening.  Whether its true or not ... I can't believe Im finally caught up.  I got this one listened to BEFORE the next one came out (if only barely!).

I just wanted to say thanks for giving everyone a heads up on my free games site KenMGames  But I see that the link to my free games site KenMGames didn't get into the show notes so if it's not to presumptuous (and if you don't think I'm overstepping my bounds) I will just add it here.  Again, that's my free games site KenMGames  Check it out.  I hope that people can find something they like at my free games site KenMGames . And if they don't they can certainly leave me comments, suggestions and scorn-filled rants for wasting their valuable time ... but of course it will have to be done over at my free games site KenMGames .

Thanks again guys!  Brilliant work as always.


... KenMGames

what was that web site again ?

hey, free games in a time of credit crunchiness is worth a million plugs

Double d'oh! Apologies for the mental lapse.

I have added the link to the show notes above as well.

You can never have enough plugs, can you?

 Touché my friend!

Great show as usual, guys. I think Dave mentioned that he hasn't been able to find Bongo; it sounded like a nice quick puzzly game so I went on the hunt. Didn't have to scour far -- Boulder seems to have it in stock: http://www.bouldergames.com/detail.asp?Product_id=1882 

Thanks for the tip!

I hope I am mis-remembering things, but I seem to remember Dave saying he tried to order from them and he coud never get confirmation that they actually had it in stock, despite what it says on the site.

Great great extended review on Espana 1936! These historically enriched reviews are something really speacial. Thanks!