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Episode 58 - Origins 2008

58: Origins 2008

Release Date: July 7, 2008

Running Time:  143 min.

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It's Convention season. That means we dive into the trade show booths to bring you the latest from game companies large and small. This year, we have 15 interviews covering no less than 30 games! Whether you're into party games, war games or somewhere in between, there's surely a title or two that will catch your attention.

Game Companies Interviewed:  Out of the Box, Bucephalus Games, R & R Games, Flying Frog Productions, Columbia Games, GMT, Osprey Publishing, Bandai, Paizo Publishing, Pair of Dice, Elfinwerks, Academy Games, Playroom Entertainment, Valley Games, North Star Games.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Origins 2008 Interviews

Paizo Publishing | Link

We talk with Joshua Frost about Yetisburg, a Civil War card game with Yeti footsoldiers and bomb hurling Mastodons. We also discuss Key Largo.

Flying Frog Productions | Link

The creators of Last Night on Earth have a new game: A Touch of Evil, a Colonial-era Gothic horror board game. We also have a nice discussion about the photography process behind all the card art in their games.

Columbia Games | Link

Ferkin Doyle gives us an introduction to Athens & Sparta, plus we introduce listeners to the wood block system that is used in all their games, including Hammer of the Scots.

GMT Games | Link

We get a rundown on all the upcoming releases from GMT for the rest of the year. If you like history and war games, there's probably something on this list for you!

July/August: SPQR, Blackbeard, Kutuzov, Napoleonic Wars, Successors, Clash of Monarchs

September: Chandragupta, Kiev to Rostov, Pursuit of Glory

October: Halls of Montezuma, Unhappy King Charles, Gringos Module

November: Fields of Fire

December: Combat Commander: Pacific, Combat Commander: Stalingrad

Out of the Box | Link

Lots of light fun games from OTB this year, including a Backseat Drawing, Rock!, Party Pooper, and Zen Bender puzzles.

Bucephalus Games | Link

No less than 31 games coming from newcomer Bucephalus Games this year! We get the lowdown on a representative sampling of their titles including: Rorshach, Playbook Football, Suicide Bomber, Michelangelo, Toboggans of Doom, Roman Taxi, Dogfight, and Living Labyrinth

Pair of Dice Games | Link

We check in with Greg Lam and talk about his new prototype Restaurant Row and his penchant for longwinded game titles.

Elfinwerks | Link

No resting on laurels for the makers of Kingsburg. There are two new titles in the works from Elifinwerks: Lungarno, wheeling and dealing in 14th Pisa, and Comuni, each player takes on the role of a different city in Renaissance Italy. There's also rumblings about a possible expansion to Kingsburg!

Academy Games | Link

Conflict of Heroes is a tactical wargame with an innovative simple system for managing complex battle simulations.

Osprey Publishing | Link

Long-time military/historical publisher has entered the game market with their own historical miniatures rulebook, Field of Glory. Drawing from previous sources like WRG, DBM, and DBA, Field of Glory covers any battle scenario from ancient Greece and Rome through the late Middle Ages.

R & R Games | Link

Party games with a hobby game attitude. We talk about Time's Up: Title Recall and Sketch Word

Playroom Entertainment | Link

We get the scoop on Cowabunga, Ilium and rundown of several other titles, many of which are retooled versions of German kid's games.

Northstar Games | Link

Not your typical party games. From Cluzzle to Wits & Wagers to their latest, Say Anything, Northstar Games has a plan to bring gamers and non-gamers alike to the table.

Valley Games | Link

We discuss the rebirth of the classic monster battle game Titan. We tried to get another conversation about Municipium, but we ran out of time! Wait for GenCon for that one.

Bandai | Link

A new entry into boardgames in the US, Bandai is introducing Miracle Five, and abstract strategy game from the designer of Othello. Play online here.

J Moody's picture

I need some sort of wierd time warping device, so that I can listen to the Origins interviews before I actually attend Origins. There were several cases of things I wish I had checked out, but missed. (I guess via the podcast, I didn't really miss them).

sconway's picture

There are so many things to see and do at conventions, the one thing that often has to give is spending more time in the exhibition hall. We certainly hope doing these quick-hit interviews gives people a chance to take an audio tour through the dealer's room, whether you made it to the con or not! Glad to know it's working. :)

BigFriendlyDave's picture

Don't know why - but the episode's sound levels seem to be a lot lower this episode.  Normally I have no problems listening to the show on my daily commute, but I had to give up and listen back in the house.

Dave :)

sconway's picture

Sorry you had problems with the levels, Dave. I'm a bit perplexed though.

The only major difference with this episode is that the interviews were recorded with a portable digital device. The volume does not sound appreciably lower when I listen to it in any of the different file formats. Different, yes, but not quieter. If anything, several of the interviews are a little distorted from being a little too close to the mics when we recorded.

dlarson's picture

You're heading down the slippery slope of wargammer! :)

Truth is I was going to purchase that same game but popped for Combat Commander Europe instead. I may still get it.

The history being modelled in "Here I Stand" looks to be totally unique. Politics and everything.

I've heard many good comments about it.

Great episode. How the heck did you get ANY gaming in?!


sconway's picture

As JMoody says below, I think I've already slipped down that slope. I'm no grognard, true enough, and we haven't reviewed many wargames on The Spiel thus far, but I cut my teeth on some pretty hefty wargames from an early age. Advanced Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles were favorites for me and my cousin throughout middle and high school. I've played a little Warhammer and other GW stuff, but I really love historical miniatures games like DBM and DBA. I've played some Johnny Reb and a few good friends are trying to twist my arm to learn Flames of War. It's not for lack of desire, that's for sure. Just time.

During Origins I noticed I spent more time in the wargame booths than normal, probably because Dave wasn't pulling me on to the next game with goober! :) Don't get me wrong, Dave is not opposed at all to learning wargames. After all, many of them use dice! But his natural inclination is to gravitate toward euros first, I think. It was fun to get reacquainted with some of the newer titles available and get my hands on a few classics to foist on Dave sometime. :)

dumpty's picture



There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing wargames.  I've loved wargames since I first picked up a copy of Panzerblitz back in junior high and I still play euros as well.  I guess you could say I probably gravitate towards the more complicated euros -- Age of Steam, Fire & Axe, Indonesia,


" long as you play the game..."



Steerpike's picture

Absolutely, Dumpty, absolutely.

I have never held with the walls that people seem so intent on putting up between Grognards, Eurogamers, Ameritrashers (is that a word) and whatever else is out there.

I enjoy games of all genres and it's great that the Spiel brings us everything from Tiddlywinks to Twilight Imperium.

Still it was interesting to see such a wargame bias this episode. Made a refreshing change in my not so humble opinion.


sconway's picture

If I sounded embarassed or ashamed of my wargamerly tendencies, that certainly wasn't my intent. Whoops!

I still love a good meaty wargame full of strategery. My main issue is simply time. It takes a greater investment of time both in learning and playing of most wargames and as a result they don't get to my table as often as I might like. I have high hopes to get Hammer of the Scots and Manoeuvre off The List sometime this year, though!

A good pal of mine is a nationally ranked Flames of War player and he's been hounding me for some time to learn the basics so I can play an occasional pick-up game when the lads are prepping for a big tournament. This seems like an offer I shouldn't refuse since the best way to learn a complex game like FoW would be from an expert.

J Moody's picture

There was that little reference to historical miniatures gaming in the episode, so it sounds like Stephen has already been down some of the more wargame type roads. I also have it on good authority that Hammer of the Scots is on his list :)

Seems like they are very serious when they say that play all types of games!

sconway's picture

Thanks for backing me up. :) And yes, Hammer of the Scots is definitely going on The List as soon as Dave updates it.

We love games of all types, absolutely!  I played a game of P.U. The Guessing Game of Smells in the Board Room one night. Yep, a scratch-n-sniff game for 4 year olds. After that, I played a 5 player game of Caylus. I like having a finger in as many different game pies as I can. Mmm... pie...

Steerpike's picture

Am I the only listener who howled with laughter to hear that Goro Hasegawa was the 'designer' of Othello ?

What a load of Coppertwaddle.

I'm willing to accept that he 'repackaged' a classic game - ie Reversi - but to credit him as a designer really is stretching things a little too far. If I was to invent a boardgame played on an 8x8 chessboard, with flat pieces that only moved on the diagonals, and called it, say, Chockers, would I be a designer too ? Othello was, and remains, a scandal of copyright.

So what can we expect from Miracle 5 ?

Will it be Go-moku under a different name ? Or maybe he has pillaged the ancient Roman five in a row game "ludus calculorum" ?

I think we should be told.

Great show btw - although I'm only a third of the way through :-)


sconway's picture

When can we expect Chockers to hit store shelves, Steerpike? Another game for The List...

I probably should have called James, the Bandai rep, on the carpet for the Othello reference. I didn't have the facts at the ready to back me up, though. If you listen to his assertion, its clear they know that Othello has a checkered past and his response is carefully crafted to deflect that line of questions.

Miracle Five certainly owes a huge debt to the five-in-a-row classics. It does have several elements that make it stand or fall on its own merits, though. For one, the stones move around the board. Also the board itself has three regions and playing your stones to the "trench" area allows your stones to move differently.

There's an interesting question that comes out of your commentary. Designers certainly rely on a nucleus of classic game mechanics. Where and how do we draw the line between a game that is merely derivative and a game that can stand on its own?

Steerpike's picture

Lol - I need to go back and listen to the nuances in the Bandai reps statement. As a Diplomacy player I am surprised that I missed that one.

In terms of drawing a line between derivatives and games in their own right, that is an interesting point.

On one end of the scale it is very clear. Othello is Reversi, but it does not take long for that line to become blurred. Schotten Totten is remarkably close to the old card game War. But is it different enough ? (It is when it becomes BattleLine)

Perhaps we can go back to the Games Tree and define a rule around number of branches.

sconway's picture

Yes the issue is a matter of how much DNA the classic and the variant share. If they're twins, forget it; if they're cousins, then each title deserves its own place in the sun.

As for Mr Takenaka, I think it was more in his phrasing than tone of voice that tipped me off. He said something to the effect of "as far as Bandai knows he's the only designer of Othello and that's the story we're sticking to." To me that's an indication they are aware of the checkered past shared by Reversi and Othello.


scooterb23's picture

First of all, amazing how I was there for four days, and still missed some games.  Luckily I have 1 day at Gencon to catch up on those and discover more.  And to beat Stephen and Dave (I hope at the SPIEL-A-THON (did you guys hear about it?)

Second, Ferkin Doyle from Columbia Games is a hoot.  I talk to him for a couple minutes just because you never know what he'll say.  That was my favorite section of the show. 

Third, Yetisburg is a hit with my groups, so far my best purchase at the show.

Fourth, and finally, it never is long enough.

sconway's picture

I hope you DO beat the pants off us at the Spiel-a-thon since that means more moolah for the Foundation!

Ferkin was great to interview for the very reasons you stated. After the interview, we got to talking on any number of subjects and made me wish I had still been recording! His voice is one of a kind, too.

I'm definitely looking forward to covering Yetisburg on the show. It was a hoot.

Thanks for the reassurance on the length of the show, too. I used to worry much more about it, but I've come to realize that as long as I can make a case for the quality of the content, 90% of the listeners aren't going to complain if they get more instead of less. :)

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