You are hereEpisode 74: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Episode 74: Can't We All Just Get Along?


74: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Release Date: Mar. 16, 2009

Running Time: 129 min.

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Board games are team sports, too. There are plagues to fight and a village to defend! We dive into Pandemic and Ghost Stories, two in the latest wave of co-op "us vs. the world" games. 

News & Notes: Formula D Sebring/Chicago, League Leader, Alea Iacta Est 
The List: Pandemic, Ghost Stories
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Scotland Yard, Escape from Colditz

Truckloads of Goober:  Zip Code
Game Sommelier:  5 games with co-op elements that are not co-op games
Mail Bag: Black Vienna online, Toruro correction, gaudy etymology

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Formula D Expansion Tracks: Sebring/Chicago  Link | BGG

2 Double sided boards equals twice the racing fun. Chicago

Spiel Foundation Web Site Section  Link

Look in the left hand sidebar and you'll notice a purple meeple. This little guy will take you to the Spiel Foundation section of our web site. You'll find a brief description of our Foundation and it goal, plus ways you can help: donating your time, expertise, or money.

League Leader Gaelic Sports Games Link 

Board games offered by League Leader include Soccer, Rugby, Gaelic Football, and Hurling.

Alea Iacta Est BGG

Latin for "the die is cast," Alea Iacta Est is #5 in the Alea Medium Box series. Players take on the role of Caesar and compete for the most prestige points. This happens by clever placement of his/her eight dice, which are placed on five different buildings.

Asmodee Editions New Customer Service Email

Contact Gabby Meza and the fine folks at Asmodee using the following address: contact_us@asmodee.com

The List

Pandemic Official Site | BGG

Four players must work together to stop four deadly plagues from overwhelming the globe.

Ghost Stories Official Site | BGG

Demon lord Wu-Feng assaults a small village in China. You and your fellow players are Taoists sent to protect the town from wave after wave of ghosts, hoping to survive long enough to face Wu-Feng himself.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Scotland Yard  BGG | Official Site

The race is on to find Mr. X. A team of players must fan out across London to track down the notorious crook.

Escape From Colditz BGG | Devir (Spanish Edition)

Allied players join forces to gather equipment and escape from German prison camp.

Truckloads of Goober

Zip Code BGG

Miniature letter sorters for each player!

 

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: five games with co-op elements that are *NOT* co-op games.

Games withTeamwork, but Only Up To A Point

In Pursuit - BGG

Krakow 1325 A.D. -  BGG | Official Site

others: Inkognito, Cutthroat Caverns, Bang!

Games with Negotiation

Dragon's Gold -  BGG

Lifeboats -  BGG

others: Are You A Werewolf?, Machiavelli, Diplomacy, Republic of Rome

Games with Trading

Santiago -  BGG

Pit -  BGG

others: Bohnanza, Settlers of Catan, Traders of Genoa

New Challenge: five games to play with Daleks (games that feature extermination!)

Mail Bag

Thanks to repeat donor "Galactic Emperor" Bay-Wei Chang

Andres Pabon reminded us about Wolfgang Kramer's great Spanish themed games: El Grande, El Caballero and El Capitan

Thanks to Janna Nelson for introducing us to Black Vienna online.

James Englehardt points us to some other sources on the etymology of the word gaudy.

Miscellany

Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

Staggered Crossing   "My Disease"  from "Burgundy & Blue"

Stevie Culture   "Why Can't We All Get Along?"  from "Top Class"

The Questionnaires   "Ghosts In Your Eyes"  from "Arctic Circles"

The Two Man Gentleman Band  "Prime Numbers" from "Great Calamities"

Errata

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

Musti's picture

If you are looking for some extra info on Colditz and how life was over there, I highly recommend reading Pat Reid's book 'Colditz: the full story'. It gives a great view on how life was at this POW-castle and how escape plans were thought out. After this, it's fun to read Reinhold Eggers book 'Colditz: The German viewpoint'. You'll see all Pat Reid's stories again but now from a German viewpoint.

sconway's picture

Thanks, for the reading list! It would be very interesting to see things from radically different perspectives. Here are links to the books mentioned above:

Colditz: The Full Story

Colditz: The German Viewpoint

Hi guys,

Great show as always. The sound quality was really good.

Just one comment about Dave's rules explanation for Pandmic: the Dispatcher can only *move* another pawn as if it was his own (i.e. use one of the Basic Actions), he can't perform any of the other non-basic actions (e.g. treat disease, discover cure, build research station, etc) with his fellow player's pawn.  Dave's description made it sound like he could move Stephen's pawn and then use Stephen's pawn to do any of the non-basic actions.  The only exception would be the Dispatcher moving the Medic into cities that have cubes of a color of a cured disease.  Poof!  Good-bye cubes!  That's a great combo.

 

sconway's picture

Thanks, Falculus!

If Dave gave that impression about the Dispatcher, it wasn't intentional. Yes, the Dispatcher can push and pull others, but you're absolutely right, that's the extent of his ability.

I think what he meant was the Dispatcher can set up other players so that they can do things on *their* turns instead of having to spend an entire turn just getting to a problem area.

 

Personally, I'd have liked an even longer podcast; every game discussed would provide fodder for a professorial address on the CDC, ancient Chinese mythology or the astonishing career of Major Pat Reid. I learned about Escape From Colditz from, of all people, Eddie Izzard who frequently mentions board games in his performances as well as the Doctor Who play mentioned earlier in this thread in which Sophie Aldred's Ace mentions it. (Was Tennant really in that?) It never became the family staple in the States that it apparently did in Britain, but it's a fine game. While the rulebook itself needed that serious editing (and I'm on the hunt for that new manual), I'm curious as to how you would change the rules themselves. I know the roll-and-move aspect really rankles you, but it's so intrinsic here that I'm not sure how one would remove it without creating an entirely different game. I'd be curious as to what you had in mind. By the way, while I do understand your respect for the classics, the tone in your voice behind those two words "Parker Brothers" on this particular occasion still gave me a giggle. I had to go get a paper towel to wipe up the scorn dripping from the speakers. The early 1970's were actually a pretty good era for games with designers like Sid Sackson, Alex Randolph and Eric Solomon still producing their later work and Cosmic Encounter coming just around the bend one year after Colditz. It was though possibly the beginning of the end for Parker Brothers whose takeover by General Mills would gradually make them less distinguishable from the more kid-oriented Milton Bradley and foreshadow the Hasbro era.

Glad you enjoyed Pandemic and Ghost Stories. I hesitated to buy the latter because of a daunting price-to-box-weight ratio, yet it made a bigger splash with me than anything else has in a while. I'm surprised to hear Stephen so cautious about introducing it to less experienced players. There is a lot going on here, but it's all so well indicated by the iconography on the boards that I've never had to tell anyone anything twice. They remind me of road signs or the caution warnings you see on product labels or airplanes and they've made teaching the game to my less zealous friends no more difficult than Pandemic and possibly even less so.

As far as counting the waves, I'd call this the third. My association with cooperative games from the kind of social theory approach needled in the opening is the New Games movement of the early 1970's, which were primarily more active, outdoor activities. (I for one will proudly hug that tree. If you ever get the chance to play Earthball, it's a blast. If memory serves, it's a bit like that game that starts by accident at parties where someone pops a balloon into the air and the group then feels compelled to prevent it hitting the ground, only the balloon is HUGE.) I'm guessing that a lot of the eye-rolling here is directed more toward things like the Ungame, which I was spared from ever having to play but which, having suffered through Scruples, I can imagine is fairly ghastly.

I'd love to be corrected here, but I think the first wave of the kind of games you're talking about here really stemmed from Dungeons and Dragons. I have decidedly mixed feelings about D&D and its effect on the world of games, but one of the most positive things, and one of the hardest for people to wrap their heads around when it first appeared, is that it introduced the idea of a game which did not have a designated winner but rather revolved around players cooperating to create a shared narrative. Furthermore, its initial novelty created enough of a sensation to generate the new market that would ultimately provide a home for early co-ops and partial co-ops like SPI's Dawn of the Dead, whose co-op variant is far superior to the standard rules, the original Arkham Horror and my annoyingly out-of-print recommendation of the week, the splendid if cumbersome Wreck of the BSM Pandora, one of my newly unearthed favorites that screams out for a polish, a streamlined rulebook and a nice, shiny production. Picture a straight-faced hybrid of Red November and The Awful Green Things From Outer Space and you're beginning to get the idea. "Fletcher? Here, Fletcher... niiiiice Fletcher... AIIIGH!"

 

sconway's picture

You always give me a lot to chew on Gregory! Allow me to ruminate a little...

I guess scorn and surprise sound a lot alike when I'm speaking. My vocal range (of late) has been killed by a nasty case of laryngitis that I can't seem to kick fully.

You're totally right to point out that in their day and age, the venerable Brothers produced a wide variety of games - wider, in fact, than the ones I remember ever seeing in the shops when I was a kid. That's what surprises me when I discover that PB had its own version of Colditz and others of its ilk. I think you can even make the case that the more "experimental" hobby games in Parker Brother's lineup, helped give rise to the board game renaissance we are enjoying today.

I'll stick to my guns on Ghost Stories being a notch up the ladder from Pandemic when introducing non-gamers or casual gamers to co-ops. I've tried both and Pandemic has never failed to please. Ghost Stories overwhelmed a few, just because there are so many more options on any given turn. It's not that the iconography isn't clear or easy to learn, it's the fact there are more options to consider that makes the hurdle a little higher. Impossible? Not at all. And your mileage will vary with the players at hand. But with all else being equal, I'd break newbies in with Pandemic and then move on to Ghost Stories.

Very interesting point about D&D helping to usher in the co-op waves. You may be onto something there. It's not a straightforward lineage the way we can look back to specific games from earlier eras, but since there is such a wide overlap between role players and board gamers, it isn't a big leap to see how someone would want to translate the shared experience of an rpg into a more stand-alone experience. The rpg is the novel and the board game the short story if you allow me to push the co-op analogy a little?

Mentioning The Sigma File and slagging off Milton Bradley in the same post really should have gotten me slapped with another PWI. I was delighted over the weekend to find a seemingly untouched copy of Conspiracy, the inexplicably retitled 80's edition of this great game, in a local thrift store. (Which by  the way brings out my own variant of Coleson's Syndrome- the Swiss bank books look to have never been used. It's going to cause me to wince putting pencil to them, but they do so much for the atmosphere of the game that I couldn't ask people to play without them.) Up in the corner of the box were the friendly letters MB and that familiar key. On the way home with my prize I reflected with rueful embarrassment that MB had actually been getting more ambitious in its dying years than I had given it credit for with things like the adaptation of Inner Circle and of course the Gamemaster series. It made me miss the time when the mainstream game manufacturers had the nerve to put out new titles rather than feeling unable to release something without packaging it as some variant of an older title.  Mea culpa, again.

By the way, check out the web site of Eric Solomon, the creator of The Sigma File as well as Black Box and the maniacally amusing jumping game Billabong. I've often thought he deserves the kind of recognition given some of his more prolific contemporaries such as Mr. Sackson.

(in reply to Steerpike above but clumsily misthreaded by yrs. truly)

RD did indeed find its cult following here. Indeed the world was narrowly spared an American remake- if you see the pilot, it's every bit as bad as you would fear. Good news for you then if you didn't already know- the small rouge one is on its way back to your screen for the grand finale this Easter according to the BBC. (Shame the movie imploded though.)

As far as "Tom Baker on", the Peter Davison era was quite good, wasn't it? (Castrovalva, Kinda, Caves of Androzani etc.) Who jumped the shark and back so many times over its four decades that I think each era has at least one great and one truly dreadful episode. (Unfortunately for the last two original series docs, their truly dreadful episodes were their first which can't have helped the show's survival.)

Steerpike's picture

I think you are probably right that every era has its ups and downs - sadly I remember most of the downs of the post-Baker doctors and very few of the ups. It's probably more to do with where I was in my life at the time.

I felt like Dr Who was losing its way but maybe it was me going through a midlife crisis or just demonstrating an inherrant bad sense of direction.

Glad to hear that Red Dwarf made it to the shores of the new world without having to suffer the dreaded "Men Behaving Badly" treatment. Although I am not really sure that the forthcoming finale is good news.

I'm not a big fan of final episodes. They never live up to expectations and often ruin the whole premise with unnecesary, and often schamltzy, plot line tie ups and close outs. The characters, themselves, invariably seem to know that they are in a final episode and thus react differently. It's possible that RD will buck the trend but the smeghead in me knows that I'll be dissapointed.

Of course, I will watch it anyway.

 

Sorry, thinking about this sort of thing whiles away a week of boring bus journeys so by the time I finally post something, I spew out enough to choke a horse. So one hugged tree, one choked horse; hopefully there's some sort of karmic balance there. I'll try to be quicker here.

Again, I was just ribbing you about the Parker pronunciation; I know you've got your "game tree" idea and so on. But your mention of discovering more from them than you remember as a kid makes me concede that the Parker we grew up was with a sad ghost of its former self (I'm slightly older than you, but same general ballpark). George Parker was no angel but at least he was actually a game designer. (Chivalry probably being his most enduring title) He credited creators long before the era of designer games (although that's still occasionally questionable- "Mr. Gavitt, meet Mr. Cayce, he's been reading your mind") and added his own tweaks to most of the titles that he published. General Mills on the other hand designed sugary cereals so I confess I'm hard-pressed to name a significant Parker title from much later than the mid-1970's that would entertain an adult audience. Things like Colditz or The Sigma File were possibly of the last hurrah before the company began to target a more juvenile audience with the kind of TV/ movie tie-ins that gave roll-and-move a bad name. (My take- fine if the game USES roll and move, problem if the game IS roll-and-move full stop.)

And as far as D&D, that's just my memory from the early days of people observing play and, attempting to suss out what was going on, innocently asking, "So who's winning?" Nobody was "winning", per se. By the way for you fellow game archaeologists out there, someone's tricked out that antique Dawn of the Dead game pretty nicely here as a P&P.

http://www.witchmastercreations.com/dawn.php

Haven't managed to unearth the URL for the Australian company that sold me the PDFs for BSM Pandora though.

 

 

 

joeyhemlock's picture

Rules for a Pandemic expansion called "On the Brink" have been posted! There are lots of new roles, rules for a fifth player, rules for a fifth disease, and even an option for a bio-terrorist (one against the rest). It's listed as a "Summer '09" release.

 

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/42045

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