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Episode 60: GenCon 2008

60: GenCon 2008

Release Date: August 18, 2008

Running Time:   84 min.

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Spiel on! The greatest four days in gaming... right in our back yard. In addition to interviews and reports from the Spiel-a-thon, we invite three other Spielers to a round table discussion about the convention.

Game Companies Interviewed:  Ape Games, Asmodee Editions, Devir, Dwarven Sweatshop, Geek Chic, Gryphon Forge, Z-Man Games & THE Settler of Catan.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2008 Interviews

Ape Games | Link

We talk with Kevin G. Nunn designer of Duck! Duck! Go! Custom rubber duck bathtub racing at its finest. Design your own set of ducks here.

Asmodee Editions | Link

We demo Jamaica and preview Okko, Senji, and the new edition of Formula De.

Devir | Link

Devir specializes in Spanish language games. They are testing the waters with two titles translated into English: Espana 1936 and Castellers.

Dwarven Sweatshop | Link

Custom hand crafted dice trays in over 20,000 configurations!

Geek Chic | Link

Get rid of the plywood and sawhorses and bring your hobby out of the basement. The gigantic Sultan Game Table is a work of art and a practical playing surface for almost any type of game.

Gryphon Forge | Link

The first title from Gryphon is Wizard's Gambit, a card game pitting players against each other in a contest to complete spells.

THE Settler of Catan | Link

We visit with the most famous resident of Germany's hexagonal island empire.

Z-Man Games | Link

We talk to the Z-Man himself, Zev Shlasinger, about upcoming titles including Wasabi, Agricola, Tales of Arabian Nights, Ubongo Extreme and Ubongo Duel.

2008 Spiel-a-thon

The event was a resounding success. Several hundred people attended and (we hope) had a great time. We gave away nearly 80 game prizes and raised over $700 for The Spiel Foundation! Special thanks to Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games for hosting the Spiel-a-thon and to our prize sponsors: North Star Games, Z-Man Games,, Paizo Publishing, Simply Fun, Playroom Entertainment, Out of the Box, GMT Games, Q-Worskshops Dice, and The Game Preserve. Here is a link to pictures from John Richard

Special thanks to Darren Hron, Brian Looker, and Mark Taylor for participating in the round-table discussion.

And congratulations to Darren and Hannah on their engagement! It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the moment.

J Moody's picture

How did you manage to get this one out 'on time'? I wasn't even planning on checking!

sconway's picture

I wish I could say I had the editing department take care of it and I went to bed, but I am the editing department!

It was a looong night/morning, but it was important to me to stick to our normal release schedule. The show must go on and all that... Since I work for myself, its easier to adjust my week to accomodate an all-nighter.

Hopefully everything turned out all right with the show. I tried not to rush anything, but if you find any errors, let me know!

joeyhemlock's picture

I was expecting it a day or two late, too. Thanks for the hard work! I was also glad to hear that the second half would be during the off week! I was afraid I'd have to wait another month for the next "normal" episode (well, as normal as you guys get, anyway).


Your nemesis,


joeyhemlock's picture

AWESOME job with the fund raiser. I was expecting about $400-500, so you vastly exceeded my estimate!  You clearly had many Nemeses-in-training.

And congrats to Darren and Hannah! I hope they can get THE Settler of Catan to officiate their wedding. I kinda want to be that guy's best friend. He was funny.


Mark, The Nemesis.

sconway's picture

Pretty soon, all our nemeses are going to have to form a union. I'm sure they'll elect you President.

I was thinking that $500 would be an amazing start, so we are thrilled to have exceeded that amount.

Yes, all the best to Darren and Hannah!

For those without the enhanced version of the show here's a pic:

joeyhemlock's picture

Ha! That is the most awesome thing I have seen since, well, since the Sultan Gaming Table that I can't afford and haven't the space for. But, still, it's awesome. That was my favorite interview. Clearly, Klaus Teuber has a good sense of humor, too.

J Moody's picture

Wow - clearly The Settler comes from a hexagonal island awash in bright dyes. I guess attention getting is all important at a con. Pretty funny all around though.

sconway's picture

You didn't know the secret Formula closely guarded by the founders of Catan?

2 sheep + 2 wood = Spandex

I am gagging to see the Dwarven Sweatshop gaming table, but it seems to be a dead link, or their site is down.




J Moody's picture

Dwarven Sweatshop was the dice trays.

Try this URL: I think the one in the show notes is missing the _ characters.

sconway's picture

Looks like the folks at Geek Chic were updating their web site today. The links in the show notes are all working correctly now. Pretty amazing table, eh?

I've had a couple emails from them since GenCon and they basically opened to the world for business at GenCon. They are dealing with floods of web traffic and interested gamers.

joeyhemlock's picture

It's awesome, but it looks HUGE. I have a small house. Plus, I think that "well" in the middle looks too deep. You'd have to constantly be standing up to see what's going on. Great for RPG-ing and Mini-Gaming, not so much for board games.

I'm glad that they're looking at other products in the future. I think that if they scaled it down to six feet then it might work in my house. Of course, there's no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that I could convince my girlfriend to let me get one.

Looks like it's time to start playing the lottery!

J Moody's picture

Looks to me like something a pool-playing librarian would come up with. Definitely a great idea - I hope they sell a bunch, but not something I could see myself wanting. I like the ability to leave a game set up though. I could see myself getting a dining room table with a plexiglass top for that purpose.

It looks like a totally geeky table and yeah for RPG and wargame purposes it looks great, but I'd agree that for board games I'd see the recessed tabletop as more of a barrier than an aid. You want to be able to easily reach all of the components quickly and without too much leaning, and everyone reaches in a lot more than one does in eith RPG's or wargames.

I have a nice dining room table that I got as a "moving into your first apartment" gift from my parents and my entire aim was for it to be a solid table. It's a pine dining room table and has been the centerpiece of pretty much every place I've lived, but it's very well loved, very well used and still solid as a rock. No storage or anything, but come on, a game collection couldn't fit in the geek table either! :)

sconway's picture

There's actually an insert which fits over the recessed area bringing it flush with the edges. They had it at the con, but it was sitting over to one side (he points it out in the interview if memory serves).

The real problem is the table is way too wide for board games of almost any sort. You'd need a croupier as if you were at a craps table to move your pieces!  Given the quality of construction, I'd love to see what they could do to make a premium board/card game table for 3-6 people! The hinted that they have plans in the works for a model small enough to fit in an apartment. That might just do the trick.

I don't mind big: when I want to play one of the FFG games or Talisman or something else with lots of boards and/or pieces (heck, even Agricola is a space hog) I need it, but yeah, you need to lean over or be able to have a corner of the table to play at. If you're sitting in a chair at the gaming table (with the insert in), how high is it in comaprison to a normal dining room table?

Now I feel like taking a picture of my table just to show what I'm talking about as far as "tables I like"...

sconway's picture

I think the height of the table is designed so that the pull-down desks are at normal table height. That means the table top is really mean for standing, not sitting and playing. Being of hobbit-like stature myself, it would be like sitting at a table made for ogres. I think for card games it would be fine, or is you like to stand or pace and not necessarily sit the entire time you play. Imagine trying to place Carcasonne tiles, though.

Then again, maybe scooterb has the right idea. Each player just needs a set of those mechanical grabber hands (used for reaching the top shelf, etc) to play their tiles....

joeyhemlock's picture

Just make the whole table out of acrylic so you can kind of see through it. Problem solved (except now you dont' have beautiful wooden table anymore).

I hope one of their future designs has a rather standard-height table with a smallish well in case you need to save an in-progress game. instead of a fold-down station, you could have a little flip-up station that would act as a privacy shield as well as a storage area.

Although, I really like the idea of having a croupier's rake for each player to push their pieces around. Might not work so well for some games, though. Carcassonne springs to mind.

scooterb23's picture

"You'd need a croupier as if you were at a craps table to move your pieces!"


Oh come on, how much more fun would Axis & Allies be with croupiers!  croupioxen?  croupii?


Anyway, I saw that table, and the first thing that went through my head was "Finally!  I can play Railroad Tycoon!"  That table was a thing of beauty.



joeyhemlock's picture

Have you ever seen the table as shown in the video linked below? It's not specifically for gaming, but it is specifically awesome.  Of course, it's also specifically £60,000 if I remember correctly.


Video here (Is embedding an option?):

xofour's picture

That is an amazing table I love it.   The gaming table was neato for sure.  But the one on your link is just a thing of beauty to watch.   Thank you for sharing.

sconway's picture

We actually mentioned these tables back in the early days of The Spiel, Episode 19: Cold Fusion. It was a News & Notes item. Here's a link to the company's site as well.

joeyhemlock's picture

Well, then, that explains where I found it in the first place!

I'm still listening to the podcast (it's my commute entertainment), but I wanted to comment on something you said in the opening. One of you said that you go to the expo hall during the day and then after it closes it's time to game for the night (or something like that). As Steve can attest from seeing me at Origins, that is not MY philosophy at all! Oh no, my philosophy is that you play games and if there happens to be a moment where you need to leave the game room (to eat, use the restroom, or even just because there's a break in the action), then you use the dealer's room to fill the gaps between games.

At a con to me, it's all about playing games*. I do believe I made a comment about how many games of Race for the Galaxy we'd have been waiting had we gone to that first place we were thinking of eating on Saturday night, after all...


*Essen is actually a little different in that it's actually about seeing the games more than playing them during the day, but only because I need to know what to be on the lookout for back in the states! :)

sconway's picture

Yep, Joe is a game playin' fool!

The great thing about conventions is there are so many things going on, everyone can have their own agenda whether it is playing or scoping out new things or playing in tournaments or special events - take your pick - and you are SURE to find others who are on the same track.

I think one of the reasons we are motivated to hit the trade show floor and get interviews is many people are so busy playing and doing other things, they may miss out on some really cool new games, especially the small publishers. We'll do our part to cover that aspect of the show (since we really enjoy it) and still have plenty of time for games, too. :)

Yeah, you actually do have a pretty good reason to hit the floor thanks to the podcast and I'm glad you do! I wouldn't want to do it but as a listener it's fun to listen to.

Steerpike's picture

Hey, this show was only an hour and a half.

I want my money back !

sconway's picture

No receipt, no refund, mister!

Sad when 90 minutes seems like a short show, I know. We are such windbags.

xofour's picture

After listening in closer detail & seeing some more pictures I think I have changed my mind about the Sultan game table.  It might actually be worth the 10 grand considering it's the first table I have seen that would actually fit Talisman 2nd edition with all the expansions & the players comfortably in one location.   

   And I totally missed the dwarven sweatshop my first time listening.  How cool are those dice trays.  Wow.   

  The interviews were awesome,  My daughter (who first introduced me to settlers of cataan)  loved The Settler interview.  I personlly liked the Asmodee interview just cause the big dungeon twister set sounds like a perfect christmas wish list item.  Amazing how a convention can inspire the greedy gene.

   So on to the even cooler part congratulations on making over  $700 & facilitating true love at the spiel-a-thon.  That is going to be incredilby hard to top.   It looked & sounded like a grand party.  

         I think next year you should take it on the road.  Kind of like an old revival tent show.  Take a 2-5 month sabatical,  use boardgamegeek to co-ordinate the marketing with brick & mortar stores around the country.  Get yourself a big 'ol tent & set up a mini spiel-a-thon in parking lots or whatever.   just like a traveling circus, or fair.    The FLGSs could get lots of good marketing from the event  & local interest stories in the news.,  Online game stores could get good marketing by donating prizes, or maybe sponsering you guys an RV.  And of course the spiel foundation would be able to get exposure, meet childrens hospitals & senior centers around the country for future targets once you saturate your local market.  Everyobody would win.  

(wow, sorry I hate it when the dam breaks on my stream of conciousness)

 PS.  on second thought.  you should wait 2 years for this plan.  Becase the t-shirts  "SPIEL TOUR 2010"  would look a whole lot cooler

sconway's picture

That's actually a super cool idea and not as far-fetched as it might sound.

I've been pondering doing a 10-12 episode documentary/travel series that would explore the great variety of regional card and board games in different areas of the country (world?) - look at what people are playing, how the games have evolved over the years and what it tells us about the history and culture of a region. I've seen many shows that use food as a gateway to undestanding a region or culture; I think you could do something similar by looking at the games we play. No funding as of yet, but you could easily make it a Spiel-a-thon tour as well!

I think we need to drive a nice old 1950's round fendered truck full of game components. O rat least some meeples painted on the sides...



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