You are hereEpisode 76: A Kind Word & A Gun

Episode 76: A Kind Word & A Gun

76: A Kind Word & A Gun

Release Date: April 13, 2009

Running Time: 117 min.

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An offer you can't refuse. We play by mob rule this week, packing heat and hijacking hooch with two gangster themed games: Chicago Poker and Family Business.

News & Notes: Spiel-a-thon 2009, Dominion Intrigue, Dicetown, Miss Poutine
The List: Chicago Poker, Family Business
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Gangsters, The Chicago Caper

Truckloads of Goober:  The Godfather Game
Game Sommelier:  5 games with whacked out themes to play with a mob of people
Mail Bag: Gamer Cruises, Where's Kevin?, Modul4r

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Spiel-a-thon 2009 at BGG Con  Link

We are proud to announce the 3rd annual Spiel-a-thon will be held at BGG Con in Dallas this year! Building on the success of last year's event, we hope to raise more funds for our non-profit group The Spiel Foundation and have a ton of fun in the process. We'll be hosting a Wits & Wagers team tournament. Date, time, entry fee and prize lists will be coming in the next few months. Stay tuned!

Dominion Intrigue  Link | BGG

A stand alone expansion for the multifaceted medieval card game

Spiel Game Journals

We're working on Spiel themed game Journal you can purchase as another way to help support the show. Below is a prototype of the journal. Final cover may vary in color and design. Price and ordering information will be available very soon.

Dice Town Link 

Each player gets a cup with five poker dice and eight dollar. Each turn a player will put together a poker hand and depending on the roll, take control of various key places in Dice Town that will allow him to perform the corresponding action of the location.

Spiel Pledge Drive 

We're setting a goal for the next 6 months: 100 donors and 25 subscribers to the show! For every 20 donors/subscribers we'll do a drawing for a Spiel-themed prize (dice? game journal? shirt?). Thanks to everyone helping The Spiel get on stable financial ground! Use the donate links in the left sidebar to help us reach our goal!

Excape Link | BGG

PReiner Knizia's answer to Sid Sackson's dice classic Can't Stop. Looks like a fun press your luck game with some interesting twists.

Miss Poutine Link | BGG

Players are cooks and waitresses at a diner. Cooks try to get rid of all their ingredients by making dishes. Waitresses try to fill as many orders as they can, including the Quebecois delicacy, poutine!

The List

Chicago Poker Official Site | BGG

Stud poker shootouts determine which gangsters will control the streets of the Windy City.

Family Business Official Site | BGG

TPut out hits on rival gangs and avoid eating lead to become the top mobster.

Table Talk

Gangsters  BGG 

TUse your Vamps, Thugs and Racketeers to control gin joints and make the most scratch. The game comes with its own squirt gun used in shootouts.

The Chicago Caper BGG 

A gangster themed Host-a-Murder-Mystery. A great way to spend an evening with friends.

Truckloads of Goober

The Godfather Game BGG

A gangster game that comes in its own violin case!


The Game Sommelier

The challenge: five games with wacky themes to play with a "mob" of people

Pow Wow -  BGG  

Waldschattenspiel -  BGG | Official Site

Cash & Guns: Yakuzas -  BGG | Official Site

Coo Coo -  BGG

Mongolian Goat Rodeo -  BGG | Official Site

New Challenge: 5 games for settlers of a utopian community that help them build their society.

Mail Bag

Thanks to repeat donors Carlos "The Puzzler" Hernandez, Jason "The Provost" Lukac, Randy "World Conqueror" Wilburn, and welcome to new donor Tim "Where's Kevin? Huesken

Thanks to Darren and Hannah for reporting on their great Gamer Adventures cruises.

Thanks to Martin Boiselle for submitting his print & play puzzle game Modul4r to our Games by Spielers for Spielers forum. Check it out!


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

Gangsters - "Gangster Ska" - buy the mp3

Gary Myrick & Havana 3 AM - "Teenage Mafia" - buy the mp3

Between the Trees - "Words" - buy the mp3


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

Steerpike's picture

Since I am clearly the Devil's Pedant (a bit like the Devil's Advocate only far more irritating and geeky) can I be the first to point out that Putin is not the President of Russia - he is the Prime Minister.

The President is Dmitry Medvedev.

Do the Quebecois have a dish named after him as well ? 

sconway's picture

OK, you got me. I had Poutine on the brain.

That said, Putin acts more like president/prime minister and supreme leader all wrapped into one.

Steerpike's picture

Indeed, one might even suggest that it fits in perfectly with the gangster theme.

If one was not concerned about a delivery of polonium, of course.

sconway's picture

Yes, the Russian mob might have a score to settle with us...

I hear Polonium is quite nice in soup. Especially borscht.

White Stone's picture

Okay, question for y'all.  When playing Family Business, I always say 'I'll play the rythym section'. Whenever I say that, I get blank looks, until I pick up my family and explain it. Does anybody here know which family I always pick? And why? :o)

"The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang; let's rock!"

Which brings me to as good a point to start as any- I was a little surprised to hear Stephen say that he wished they'd "gone more historical" since unless they've changed things in the new edition all of the gangsters have the names of real historical figures of the period and in the most recent but one the cards are actually illustrated with their mug shots. I've worn through three copies of Family Business and was glad to reclaim the original orange box Mayfair edition from EBay before they instituted their obnoxious ban on money order payments. The original lacked the big box by the way but at least the cards had their functions printed on them rather than needing a reference sheet. When you've had the same group playing together long enough to read each other, strategy is what you bring to the table. It offers all of the fertile ground for promises, alliances and betrayals of many longer, more complicated political games  ("Heh, heh- I- I wouidn't do that to ya, Mugsy... I- I'm yer pal! Tell ya what, I won't finger ya this time if you hit HIM instead" ) and there are few moments at a table more ominous to me than when having run through the deck without seeing the St. Valentine's card everyone suddenly realizes that one of them must have "the bomb." Simply one of my personal top ten games of all time. On, by the way, you can find among a vast ocean of other things Al Smith in old newsreel footage welcoming the end of Prohibition and trusting that our government would never make such a mistake again. I can't help but wonder what he'd have made of the laws that were to come after him and the new gangsters that were to arise as a result.

Oh and you're doing it in Dallas? Shocker!  Not sure they'd let me in there after some of the things I've confessed to here. More likely "advance me to the nearest railroad"- and then run me out of town on it.  (grin)

White Stone's picture

Somebody had to get that reference. :o)

Steerpike's picture

whoa, some serious weirdness going on in the sommelier this episode.

I was convinced that "Buzkashi" mentioned in the Mongolian Goat Rodeo segment, with the Coleson claim that  "this really is a sport", was going to prove to be another Coppertwaddle moment. But a swift google search shows multiple hits for this and wikipedia has a lengthy article on the subject.

Either this is an uber-coppertwaddle conspiricy or the residents of the steppes really do hurl decapitated animals at each other. It's a dangerous world out there.


Spiel Journals sound cool - put me down as an early adopter.

Re: "The goat has to live, I believe..." (Steven @ 1:41:53)
Buzkashi is played with a goat carcass, but that just makes it wackyier, right?

This is going to blow your mind: there are more games with this same theme -- though I don't know how many are actually published. A BGG user (stationed in Afghanistan?) held a contest around the theme:

sconway's picture

I was hoping someone might try to catch me in another Coppertwaddle...

But no! It's a real sport.

OK, I'll admit I didn't know the goat/ball was dead when the race begins, but with the help of Lurking Meeple, I've got *multiple* games and a whole country to back me up. :) I would never have guessed there would be more than one game on this theme! Great stuff.

J Moody's picture

The mobsters of the Steppes use the heads of the Buzkashi calfs to give people "an offer they can't refuse."

Steerpike's picture

I heard that putting a goats head in someone else's bed was a marriage proposal. It's a tough romantic life out on the steppes.

joeyhemlock's picture

How weird is it that buskashi was referenced twice in a span of a few hours, and by completely different resorces. First I was added on Twitter from a Marcus Wilder, who I assumed added me because we have very similar names. Anyway, turns out he's a travel author and the bio on his website says: "One fat year, at age 55, Marcus realized a life-long ambition…he played buz kashi, an ancient game of war played on horseback with the carcass of a calf or a goat." I read the Wikipedia article on it. And then, not two hours later, I listen to the Spiel and it comes up again.

It's just a weird coincidence, is all I'm saying.

sconway's picture

How odd is that? Crazy!

I guess Spring-time brings out all the goat-sport enthusiasts.

joeyhemlock's picture

Cicero still had mob influence as recently as the early 2000's. The mayor ended up going to jail on corruption charges. She got the job as an appointment from her husband who was going to jail on some sort of mob-related charges.

 Needless to say, there are still some old mob hangouts here in Chicago. The most well known is probably The Green Mill in Uptown, which was own by a member of Capone's crew. It has a door in the floor behind the bar that goes to an underground storage area/escape route used during prohibition.  And there's the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park, outside of which John Dillinger (from Indianapolis) was killed.

 I bet there is a Chicago mafia-related tour. I'd totally take that tour.  I wonder why it is that we romanticise the mafia so much. I mean, they were murderers and thugs, right? But I guess that they "generally" didn't hurt the common man, so maybe we see them as some sort of Robin Hood (without so much of  the 'giving to the poor' part).

sconway's picture

My Mom and her family were from Gary, Indiana, hotbed for organized crime and government corruption. Think of it as Chicago's even seedier kid brother. I grew up hearing stories about the crooks in charge yet there was almost a grudging respect for the gangsters running things behind the scenes.

I think Prohibition itself set up the mob as robin hood type figures. The majority of the population wanted to have access to alcohol and the mob made that happen. You might not like their methods, but if the end result was you could sneak in a drink at a speakeasy, you didn't think too hard about connecting the dots.

Do hackers and pirates seem to occupy the same position of "sticking it to The Man" in today's society. Or maybe it's jus the mob has just gone digital...

joeyhemlock's picture

I always thought the special cards in Chicago Poker were just a bit "not right" as well. Here's what I thought of as a possible solution. Keep in mind that this is totally not-at-all playtested and therefore could possibly suck.

1. Make a set of each of the "power cards" for each player. Since everyone has the same ones, you wouldn't have to use cards and could instead use poker chips or something else thematic. Each player gets to use these "powers" once during the course of the game, after which the power card is removed from the game.

2. Optionally, turn the six power cards that came with the game into Wild Cards (important to have the same back). Give one to each player at the start of the game. It's played the same as any other card and resolved at the time of the showdown as whatever the player wants it to be. When done, they are removed from the game (or shuffled back in with the discards if you want even more chaos).

I think that would work. I've played the game five or six times and it seems like the power cards end up breaking the balance a little.



sconway's picture

I like idea #1 a LOT.

Everyone having a set of the special action cards gives each player flexibility on shootouts and also adds more bluffing to the game.

Definitely going to try it the next time I play!

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