Episode 82: Origins 2009

82: Origins 2009

Release Date: July 6, 2009

Running Time: 142 min.

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Get your lanyard and badge ready. We're off to Columbus Ohio for Origins Game Fair. Our tour of the exhibit hall leads us to fourteen interviews with game publishers large and small.

News & Notes: Spiel des Jahres Winner Announced, Scribbler #4 coming soon
Interviews: Z-Man, Wattsalpoag, Uber Goober, Tangent, Jolly Roger, Jeezle Pete's, Out of the Box, Slugfest, Geek Chic, Gorilla Games, Billiboards Carrom, Cheerful Entertainment, Funmaker, Ape Games

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Dominion wins 2009 Spiel des Jahres Press Release (in German)

Congratulations to designer Donald Vaccarino and publisher Rio Grande Games for winning this year's award. The innovative deck-designing card game has quickly become a favorite for players across the world.

Summer Break 

We take our traditional Summer break after this show. In place of a regular episode in two weeks, stay tuned for Scribbler #4, a puzzle sent down through the RSS feed as a pdf document. Solve the puzzle and you could win one of two prizes: Race for the Galaxy or Airships.

Origins Interview

Z-Man Games link

Tales of the Arabian Nights | BGG

Pandemic: On the Brink | BGG

Endeavor | BGG

Wattslapoag Games link

Claim It!

Fruit Fair

Nomads of Arabia

Jet Set

Uber Goober Games

Uber Goober film

Undead States of America

Tangent Games link

Bankruptcy: The Card Game


Gem cards

Jolly Roger Games link

Rope | BGG

Surf's Up, Dude   | BGG

Founding Fathers | BGG

Jeezle Pete's link


Out of the Box Games  link

Word on the Street

Backseat Drawing

Letter Roll

Slugfest Games link

Red Dragon Inn 2

Geek Chic link

Sultan Gaming Table

Emissary Gaming Table

Alexandria Codex

Gorilla Games link

Who Would Win? | BGG

Lifeboat | BGG

Battlestations | BGG

Billiboards Carrom Boards link

Carrom boards

International Carrom Federation

United States Carrom Association

Cheerful Entertainment link

What's Your Excuse?

Funmaker Games link

Knights of the Realm

Ape Games link

Duck! Duck! Safari!

Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

Geoff “Galaxy Tekker” Englestein
Daniel “Chica-bunga-Conga” Sharon 
Jeff “Esteemed Elder” Sharon
Mosse “The Chieftan” Stenstrom
John “10 Days in Rohan” Toppe
Martin “Zoom Bot” Jung
Bill “The Time Lord” Hand


The background artwork is a picture by Iwan Gabovitch

Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Tambourine, Play It Slow" by The Skygreen Leopards  - buy the mp3

"Playing by the Rules" by Ben Businovski - buy the mp3


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


I really really really really really really really really really really really really really want one of those fancy carrom boards, except that I'd probably rarely get to play. I guess I'll save up for the game table instead!

They are very tempting, indeed!

Francie gave me a Crokinole board as a gift over the holidays and we have played a bunch since December.The key is we have place to leave it out all the time for pick-up games.

I think I need a bigger house wih a room just for dexterity games so I can rationalize buying another big wooden board that can be left out ready to play.

Someday I will have a huge game room with a beautiful Geek Chic game table (maybe two, a big one and a little one) and  crokinole board and a carrom board and one of those Geek Chic Codex things and shelves and shelves of games and game-related art and IT WILL BE GLORIOUS.

Just working my way through the interviews, but the Uber Goober interview caught my attention (not in a good way).

"First ever zombie miniatures war game"? I wonder what his criteria are. I know of two off the top of my head: Ambush Alley has 'Ambush Z!' and Reaper was doing demos at Origins of a zombie vs human skirmish minis game. It seems everyone needs to have a zombie game these days (why?), so I imagine there are plenty more.

Uber Goober's game might be great, but I think people should be careful throwing around phrases like that.

Speaking of "everyone needs to have a zombie game", check out this Carcassonne zombie variant. It looks like a blast. :)

I think Uber Goober's bold claim comes from being new to the scene and not realizing the amazing variety of games available in almost any genre. Hard to claim to be the first or only anything any more!

The zombie Carcassonne looks like a hoot! Definitely on my list of must-try games. :)

I caught a few other 'new to the scene' comments.  I won't tell their business/marketing professors :)

My favorite portion of the interviews was when the Carrom guy was talking about the French player who has studied with all the masters. He went to India and studied with this guy, then he went here to study with this other guy…

It sounded like the start of a martial arts movie.  Carrom, starring David Carradine and directed by Ang Lee. The story of a young French man, determined to avenge his father’s humiliation via world Carrom domination.

Alternate names: 16mm;  6 rebounds


I would totally see that movie. The correct title for it, however, is White Slam. It starts with a scene where our protagonist recalls a conversation with his demanding father, who is watching an old video tape of a (real) carrom master from the 1970s executing an amazing win. "The White Slam is the hardest thing to accomplish in all of sport," the father tells his child over an increasing background murmur. The murmur crecendos louder and louder and eventually become cheers as we jump-cut to a grown hero walking up to the table to compete in the Wold Cup of Carrom.

In other words, it's Shine but Carrom instead of piano, and the guy's not (that) crazy. Stephen, get to writing/directing that, huh?

.... and the young french man was ridiculed at school by his peers for playing Carrom when he could have been hanging out with the old men, smoking gauloise and playing Boules, in the park.

the female love interest urged him to be more nihilistic and support her dream to be in a French art movie rather than travelling South Asia in search of enlightenment and the original rules to this obscure sport.

I can imagine a dream sequence involving giant carrom discs and a shaker full of potato starch (that's what is used to slicken up the playing surface) a la Fellini.

Then again, one could go the route of Kung Fu Mah Jongg. Each Carrom master has his own super power/fighting style...


When I heard this claim I did wonder if Stephen had done a bit of over editting and the actual claim was that this was the first ever zombie miniature war game of 2009.

the guy even made reference to the 'ever popular Nazi zombies' so he clearly had some visibility of undead based members of the wehrmacht

No edits there. Barring coughs or interruptions due to the crowd, I try to use a light hand and leave each conversation intact as much as possible.

Whether Undead States of America is the first or not, it's one of a very few that uses this concept as it's central theme for a miniatures wargame. I like the historical angle adding the ability to do ancient scenarios with zombies. MMMmmm.. Fun!

Hi there, Steve Metze here, the author of the game and maker of that claim.  What I was trying to emphasize, was not that this was the first ever zombie game, or even zombie miniatures game, but the first ever zombie WAR game.  So, instead of individual figures representing 1 person or 1 zombie, these are UNITS of people in a tactical war game against UNITS of zombies.  Different scale, different scope, and focused on The Zombie War (similar in many ways to the book World War Z) over the course of a multiple year campaign.  The distinction was that it wasn't an "escape from the city" zombie game (many of which I have played), it is zombies slowly expanding over the continent and you choosing where in the country you want to try and stop them, build defenses, gather resources, etc. 

Hopefully that clears that up, and I apologize if it sounded misleading in the interview. 

Incidentally, for anyone interested, we have a team working on Undead Universe (zombie wars through time and into the future) even as we speak.  The intent was to allow people with field armies from games like DBA or Warmaster Ancients or Flames of War or Napoleonics etc to fight them in a campaign against zombies.  If you'd like to post any ideas or suggestions, please go to the Undead States of America forum at http://undeadstatesofamerica.com/ and post them.  We'd love to hear from you.


1960: The Making of the President was impressive in introducing such an apparently objective game within the polarized political climate of today; the historical figures were neither lionized nor condemned (as they both certainly were elsewhere at the time). I'm therefore excited by the idea of a game stimulating the kind of conversation described by the representative from Jolly Roger. Especially since  I was a bit baffled by some of his comments. "Neither is Dick Cheney?"- sorry Jim, I sincerely am, but Cheney seems to me the very essence of a Republican all the way back to his time with the Nixon administration. Indeed the Bush administration largely drew its staff, from Cheney to Rumsfeld to Poindexter to almost-but-not-quite Kissinger, from the Republican administrations of the previous three decades. Including Reagan's. (See, I lived through that history before watching it remolded into epic myth by one side and horror story by the other. The actual truth took a hell of a beating along the way. I'm watching that process happen again now, angrier and louder this time.) The word perhaps means something different now than it did to Eisenhower but that new definition seems to fit Cheney like a glove to me.

I can't speak for Jim at Jolly Roger, of course. I'll let him address your counterpoints as he sees fit.

I do agree it is fascinating to see how historians and mass media rehabilitate or renounce certain key figures or philosophies. Seems to me at the rate at which information can spread today, this process has accelerated to the point that we see these cycles  make a complete revolution within years (sometimes months) when at one time these same patterns took an entire lifetime to change.

With that in mind, it is really exciting to see a game like Founding Fathers coming to press. We get to see these key figures in a new light *and* see how the issues of the day also helped to shape the document that has influenced history many times since then.

I know; I know. I edited and reedited that and almost withdrew it completely and reedited the comment to say something innocuous like "have a nice vacation". First, because I know that you can't answer for your guests' opinions (or claims to zombie innovation for that matter) and secondly because I really wouldn't want to be responsible for kicking off the sort of snipefest that can too often happen with this sort of subject. In the end I couldn't do it because it sounded like the very kind of thinking and dialogue your guest was hoping his game would stimulate. I hope it does; as I said 1960 actually increased my understanding of history since so much of what we still live with today started with that election. If Jolly Roger delivers on that promise I might just have to give him that milk money he asked for. (Even if he is a Republican, grin.)

So he didn't tell ya what that Launius game was off mike did he?

I'm afraid I disagree.  Reagan was greatly different than what is currently considered 'Republican'.   Reagan was a traditional conservative--espousing values of limited government and limited interference in individual affairs.  Within his administration, he worked well with Republicans AND Democrats--there was limited partisanship over foreign affairs and his administration made a conscious effort to work on issues where progress could be made with Democrats rather than get worked into a frenzy over unsolvable issues such as abortion.   And though it is easy to point out that many current Republicans worked for Reagan, that would be like saying the current Pope hates Jews because, after all, he was a member of the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany.  In Reagan's administration you had numerous moderates and practical thinkers--whether that was a rising Colin Powell, SecState George Schultz, or the various Bakers.  Eisenhower would recognize Reagan as a Republican--but worried (according to his diaries) about Republicans on the extremist right, afraid that someday if given power they could destroy the Republic.

As for Founding Fathers... :)  there's not an attempt at bias involved.  A lot of the history is about understanding the forces of compromise at work--the compromises between large and small states as well as how much power the central government should have.  I know that I had NO CLUE about the views of some of the delegates or their importance, but as Jason and Christian developed the game, I took a lot of time to read/research--and the Convention is fascinating.   I think the game has the potential to give some insight into American history while remaining a game (not a simulation).


PS.  No, I didn't tell him what the Launius game was...then it wouldn't be a secret :)   

…sigh… maybe I should have gone with the “happy vacation” message. No bias is a very tricky to pull off- I certainly can’t do it- that was again the remarkable thing about 1960: The Making Of The President. At its time of release, it was coincidentally a hot topic all over again. Many on the right were responding to criticism of the 2000 election by angrily suggesting that Kennedy’s win had been less than totally aboveboard. Many on the left were pointing to Nixon’s loose view of legal responsibility as a parallel to the Bush tactics. And yet I think a representative from either side could sit down at the table and feel that their side was fairly treated by the game’s history lesson. That’s one of the beautiful things about really good table games; they provide a civilized framework for conflict. We would for example apparently differ wildly about the late Mr. Reagan- there’s a reason my friend at the time had a bumper sticker reading “Ronald Reagan hates me” and there’s a whole raft of reason s why every time Mr. Obama felt it necessary to invoke Mr. Reagan on the campaign trail my skin crawled a little. But like I said I really don’t want to be responsible for infecting the Spiel with its own version of the RSP virus.

Because you apparently have your reasons for thinking him a heckuva guy. And in our polarized AM Talk Radio culture that means one of us is supposed to pick the black hat while the other picks the white hat and then we scream at each other for a while. Trust me, looking askance at extremists claiming to be on your side happens on all sides of the political fence.  Games might give us the opportunity to do more than that. Much as a formal debate provides rules for governing argument, a game could give us the framework to actually learn from each other. Playing as Nixon in 1960, for example, really gave me a deeper understanding of where he came from even if it didn’t leave me much more sympathetic about where he ended up.

As far as the way history gets massaged, forgive me for suggesting Will Bunch’s recent book “Tear Down This Myth” which has an interesting take on how Reagan’s mantle has been shaped to fit by people for their own political ends, while being more evenhanded with the actual man than I probably could have managed. Undeniably, to be fair, the same process also happened with Kennedy at least until Dan Quayle got so memorably shot down in debate making that pose a little less useful.


I'm not offended by your views and likewise make no personal attacks in return and I wish that respectful disagreement and discussion could occur, but I agree 100% that such conversation is difficult in current political society--everyone wants to scream and yell and be shocking...I've wondered where those people's parents were when learning manners as a child.

I'll also agree that Reagan has been used/altered from what he was by many groups to become what they wanted him to be--including the extreme conservatives who disliked Reagan for several of his stances and refusal to confront the issue of abortion directly.

In terms of Founding Fathers, because it is now more than two centuries past, it is harder to feel the tension that existed between delegates and the issues--but it is  amazing to me that so much intellectual firepower could be found on a backwater continent far away from the established nations of Europe.  And not only were the delegates generally brilliant, they were also graced with the willingness to compromise (in general) AND get along with one another (again, painting it broad) regardless of differences of position.  We tried to think of similar circumstances where this happened in history and couldn't think of any duplicates.  And that makes for a unique situation--and a great deal of the appeal in making the game for me (and I suspect for Jason/Christian as well).


Origins sounds like it was a blast. one day, my boy, one day. When I win a few thousand florints in the next Ulti tournament at the Magyar Karta festival.

I'm particularly looking forward to Founding Fathers, as "better than 1960" is a pretty bold claim in my book. Not sure about the "Dick Cheney" claim - I'll leave that to US politics watchers to comment. I am curious, though, if he's not representative of the Republicans then who is ? Sarah Palin ? 

The trivia race game sounded kind of interesting. Also I'd not heard about the superbowl advert so I traced their weblink back to it and have to say it was a great idea, well executed. Might even buy the game in homage to the guys.

It's always interesting to hear some of the designers and publishers interviewed. Some are really interesting and fun and others are, well, best left in the back room.

I'm a tough market to crack.

Great show, again. I look forward to the Founding Fathers epic 240 minutes episode, about a year from now.


Hey, and Kudos to GregoryIS for the best post title this season. "For a few disclaimers more'. Love it !