Episode 62: Killer Blimps

62: Killer Blimps

Release Date: Sept. 8, 2008

Running Time: 112 min.

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Dirigibles by gaslight. We race to build the Hindenburg wiith dice playing Airships and take turns tracking down Jack the Ripper or plotting his escape in Mr. Jack.

News & Notes: Stained glass d20, Game on podcast, International Gamer Awards
The List: Airships, Mr. Jack
Name That Game: Win Rat Hot
Backshelf Spotlight:
Great Dalmuti, Upwords 
Truckloads of Goober: Akaba
Game Sommelier: 5 games you can play without needing to move the pieces yourself
Mail Bag:
Baby Jung, War of the Ring Corrections, Delicious Library 2

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.


Game News & Notes

Stained Glass 20-Sided Dice Buy | Atlantean Artifacts

Artist John Talrico creates these amazing works of art. Perfect keepsake for any gamer. You can roll them. Once.

Game On with John and Cody Link

A new podcast about games produced by our pal John Richard and his pal Cody. Check it out!

Battle Lore sold to Fantasy Flight Games Link

Days of Wonder has announced the sale of the entire Battle Lore board game franchise to Fantasy Flight Games. We hope this means Days of Wonder will be returning to more traditional board games with their next releases!

Noodleboro Link

New series of board games to teach children manners. Dave needs the whole set.

International Gamer Award Nominees Announced Link

The International Gamers Awards were created to recognize outstanding games and designers, as well as the companies that publish them.  The awards are truly international in scope, with committee members representing countries throughout the world. The hope is that this will lead to greater exposure for these wonderful games to more and more people and help spread the word of the "wonderful world of gaming" on a global scale. Thanks to game reviewer/luminary Greg Schloesser for sending us a list of the nominees!

The List

Airships  BGG | Official Site

A light fast-paced dice game where players compete to build airships using dice combinations and cards, hopefully culminating with the construction of the Hindenburg.

Mr. Jack  BGG | Official Site | Play the Online Olympic Version (until Sept. 25)

An elegant and easy-to-learn 2-player game where you take turns trying to capture the infamous Jack the Ripper or plot a way for him to escape London by dawn. There are also two expansions to Mr. Jack which I failed to mention in the review. The Carriage and The Extension

Backshelf Spotlight

Mystery Connection Contest
Can you create a connection between these two games?
Post your connections in our forums and you could win a set of custom Spiel dice! Remember the more left of center your connection, the more likely you'll get our attention.

spiel dice

The Great Dalmuti BGG

Game designer Richard Garfield's variation on a classic ladder-style card game (like El Presidente or Asshole) is by far one of our favorite informal party games. No matter the crowd, once you start playing, you won't want to stop. And it's even better with silly hats.

Upwords BGG | Official Site

Quick and dirty Scrabble cousin where you build your words on top of each other by stacking your letter tiles to get more poin

Truckloads of Goober

Akaba  BGG | Official Site 

A ridiculously fun dexterity game where you use a rubber bellows to blow your flying carpet around the bazaar to gather up gifts and treasures.

Game Sommelier

The Challenge: Five games a person with two broken arms (after a freak trumpeting accident) could play without needing to touch his/her pieces.

Dave's List

Stephen's Vote

Gipf Series
Thumbs Up
Pillars of the Earth
Thumbs Up
Ricochet Robot
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Up 
Thumbs Up
Bonus pick
Bonus pick

Next Challenge: 25 games to assemble bundles to donate to children's hospitals. After the success of the Spiel-a-thon, our plan is to compile the best possible list of games to donate to children's hospitals. And we want your help! Stephen will start the challenge, but we need your input to make the list reflect the best that the wide world of games has to offer! Remember, we need games that can fit a wide variety of ages ( from kids 4-16 years old) and the games must also be in print. Feel free to email Stephen with your suggestions!

Mail Bag

Thanks to donors Misha "Keeper of the Comfy Chair" Nosiara, Jim "The Ripper" Grosch, David "Brass Master" Mitchell, Dale "Invoker of Ra!" Larson

Congratulations to listeners Derek and Barb Jung on the birth of their son, Kenneth James (Sai-Cheung) Jung!

Our pal Jason Ober takes us to task over a few rules goofs during our review of War of the Ring.

Samuel Williams  writes in to suggest Delicious LIbrary 2 for creating a digital catalog of your game collection. Available for mac users only.


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



Not a compaint - it was a great show and I know you are still in the padded dungeon, but the sound levels were a little off this show. The pre-recorded intros were blasting my ears off at the volume I needed to comfortably listen to the show.

Loved the bellows sound effect that Stephen did - cracked me up.

Along with the sommelier challenge a partner list could be ways to make a game last longer, and also ways to make a game be more easily sanatized. Some examples: I am not sure I want to stress test my copy of Gulo Gulo to see if the eggs lose color after 100 wipes with a anti-bacterial wipe, but I thought maybe a clear coat of polish or something might seal in the color? Card sleeves or lamination might make cards easier to wipe down and also last longer. A seperate sheet listing the components that you could tape to the box can help keep track of game pieces. I am sure there are lots of other ideas that could be useful.

- Jonathan

Yep, the spoken voice levels were way too low again on this episode. I had to use the levels at maximum with headphones on to hear it.


Great show though.



Hmmm... I'll double check my levels again.

The weird thing is I used the same method I always use to record and mix-down each episode, so I am not sure why this one would be so different. And the extra weird thing is that when I listen to the files, they don't seem to have the volume issues you describe. Welcome to the audio twilight zone!

Which version of the show did you two listen to, the mp3 or the enhanced?

I'm on the case and I'll certainly do my best to make this problem go away... once I know how to solve it!

I get the same issues too.

Interestingly I have been listening to some of the older podcasts lately and they suffered from the same sound problem. Maybe something you fixed but which has got lost again after the great flood ?

I had the issue as well (finally getting it listened to yay!). I listen to the enhanced version.

For anyone willing to help me troubleshoot, I'm going to post a couple newly mixed versions of this episode. I don't want to taint anyone's mind by saying what I have done (if anything) to the files. I want to see which ones (if any) sound better to you all. There are 2 different files an enhanced version and an mp3.

The big challenge is we're using a new very nice but very complicated mixer in a space that is horrendous for recording (cement block basement) Trying to tweak the equipment and learn its subtle nuances while trying to cancel out the "roominess" of the space makes it tough to come up with something that sounds even half way decent.

Test #1 (enhanced)

Test #2 (mp3)

We are getting ready to record the next show this week, so I am hoping to apply what I learn here to the next show. Sorry for any ear damage caused by the last episode!

Renovations on the padded cell are ongoing. I can't wait to get back into an office!

Ok, my test was not perfect, as I performed it on my pc with earphones instead of my ipod, but the sound levels seemed more consistent (mp3 in both cases). Instead of the show levels being good, and the intros being too loud, I had to turn down the volume for all of the test show :)

By the way, I think the sound was good on the original show, just the volume change was pretty dramatic between the canned and live stuff. The roominess and other problems associated with the dungeon torture chamber were not an issue.

Listening to mp3 of show, using my laptop.


PS maybe err on side of LOUD, cos it can always be turned down, but cannot go up beyond maximum  :)

Excellent point about the extra wear and tear on the games in a hospital play room. I hadn't fully appreciated that factor until you mentioned it!I can see including card protectors or something pretty basic to help protect the games, but I don't know whether we would want to get into the business of doing extra coats of sealer etc.

Perhaps, we just let the hospitals know that when the games eventually break down,  they can let us know and we can put the hospital's name back on our donation list for the next round.

Yeah, I guess I wasn't suggesting that you go too far in protecting the games, just taking into consideration which games quickly wear to the point of being hard to use vs those games that would stand up, and those easier item like card protectors and component lists.

Hey! I won Backshelf Spotlight! I knew watching all that Japanese Iron Chef would come in handy someday...

By the way, awesome episode as usual. I'm a big Mr. Jack fan, so I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. There's a good place to play by web as well (http://mrjack.hurricangames.com/).

Great Dalmuti sounds like something I need, and as a fan of word games, I'm intrigued by the sound of Upwords. I've seen it in a bazillion thrift stores and always overlooked it.

Keep it up!

I will admit my envy, but will try not to be so envious that I shoot death rays that bounce of a couple sattelites & godzillas fins (not one you mentioned and another part of asia to boot I hope) to get you.  


okay again I apologize for my stream of consiousness.  honestly I mean congrats, you had a way cool & clever connection that I truly wish I could have thought up myself.

congrats, Teabo! A well-deserved victory. :)

The online version is great fun. Can't believe I forgot to mention it on the show, so thanks for reminding everyone.

Dalmuti and Upwords are great additions to anyone's game closet, especially for those times where you need games to play with non-gamers.

Interesting episode as I have already played both games numerous times before hearing them on The Spiel and I agree with your opinions on both games.

Airships is quick , fun and uses dice.   Used this as a gateway game with great success but I have to admit after 10 + plays it loses a little appeal.    With this and KIngsburg makes you think of fun ways to use dice in different ways to play games.  I have a few fun ideas in my head.

Mr. Jack also a good one and I have the expansion on pre-order .   Best part of both these games is they are quick and always a little different.

I have to agree the volume in the show is a little low, especially when compared to the lead ins audio for each section.  I find myself raising and lowering it several times.

As always enjoyed the show.





Thanks sloef!

Admittedly both games are light, but there's plenty of room on our shelves for games that can provide some quality entertainment even if its only for 10-20 minutes. :) I am surprised that Airships doesn't hold up better in your opinion With all the different card combos, it seems like there's quite a lot of replayability since each combo could give you a slightly different path to victory.

Thanks also for the feedback on the douns issues. I am a bit puzzled on how to fix it right now, but I'll certainly go back and see if I can figure out what went wrong.


seriously quick.  I have a huge long setup  and explanation, but in a pre-new year (okay extremely pre-new year) resolution, I am working on brevity.  so you don't get all the stuff that I think makes my question interesting.  on the plus side, you get all the explanation as to why my question is interesting, which is actually less interesting than the junk I would usually use...so go figure.  if you have had much experience with my posting/email you will already know to skip the 1st paragraph.  if you haven't...well consider yoursefl warned for the future.


   my boss works 3 days a week.  if I'm lucky we get 15 minutes overlap time on lunch.   I have an opportunity to borrow Mr. Jack for a week.   Is it worth borrowing?  There is nobody (other than tuesday nights when I would borrow it for 1 week)  who has better than 60 minutes (again 20 minutes spread over 3 days...not 60 in a row)  .  Is it worth borrowing, or should I merely hope I can get to game night early enough to play a game with somebody in a single episode?

I'm not sure how well Mr Jack would work if you split the game session up. I'm sure you'd lose your place as it were, it's a great game though so give it a try.

I enjoyed the episode and it was interesting to hear your views on one of my favourite 2 player games.

Just a point about the review on the show. You said that the character pieces get flipped back and forward as the game goes on which I'm sure is wrong. Once a character is shown to be innocent, by being in the light while Mr Jack is revealed as in the dark or vice versa, then that character stays revealed as innocent for the rest of the game. This makes it even harder for the player who is Jack as the number of suspects dwindles throughout the game.

It also means the players are trying to arrange the characters on the board differently. Jack is trying to get as many people as possible into the light or dark at the same time. The Detective is ideally trying to get half the suspects to the light and half to the dark to narrow down the suspects as quick as possible.

I always feel it's much harder to play Jack's side well which is why you should definitely play two rounds as you guys suggested. Why don't you try and review the Mr Jack expansion soon? 

Interestingly, regarding Mr. Jack, I was taught to play at the Asmodee Editions booth last year at GenCon by their main marketing person and we played just as I described with the flipping happening every turn. In the English translation of the rules in my copy, I am not sure I see anything that contradicts this method of play. That said, I think it is totally easy to see how either interpretation of the flip-rule could be valid if it isn't explicitly stated.

Also, I definitely neglected to mention the adjacent characters counting as being in the light. Thanks to several listeners for catching that mistake.

And if I have overlooked a rule somehow, I'll happily own up to my goof, for sure.

Interesting indeed. I suppose flipping the counters back again does make things tougher for the detective and easier for Jack but I think thematically it makes more sense that if someone is proven innocent in round one they cannot be guilty in round two.

I sense a house rule variation here. 

Since I've played it multiple times using the flip-rule, it would definitely work as a variant if it turns out we aren't playing the officially sanctioned way.

I kind of think the constant flipping plays out more true to the theme, since in detective stories it is often difficult to determine someone's true innocence. You often see detective's opinions flip back and forth over the course of the story. In this way, the suspects in the games literally become moving targets. If you can stick the first few bits of information in your brain and remember, you're more likely to nab the right one in the end.

The flip rule is quite clear in my (English) set of rules.

When you are sure a character is innocent you flip him to the grey/innocent side. At no point does it talk about flipping back to the coloured/suspect side in any subsequent turns.

The online implementation at biludi plays this way as well.

Mr Jack is not a memory game, it's a deduction game. The Investigator needs to get the groups split up so that he can rule out as many suspects as possible. Mr Jack needs to keep everyone either witnessed or unwitnessed at the same time to prevent this happening (preferably "unwitnessed" so he gets the opportunity to sneak out)

One other part which I'm not sure you mentioned - characters who are adjacent are always witnessed whether they are in the light or the dark. This makes it worth Mr Jack's while to keep suspects clumped together and adds to the power of Sgt Godfrey who can spilt them up again with his whistle.

It's a great game,

Well, everyone else seems to have covered the rule you missed in Mr. Jack, and the flip discussion takes care of what I was wondering (I'll continue to play "once innocent always innocent" I think. :) ), BUT nobody has mentioned the part of Airships you missed.

You get the bonus chits in the game on some of the cards, yes, but the main way you get them is when you miss what you're trying to get on the dice. The chit is the consolation prize for not getting a card. This actually explains the "spend three chits for an extra turn" thing, because if you're missing a lot then you're getting an extra turn (and the tools to +1 things) more often, but you NEED those tools because you're not getting as many dice improvements as everyone else. I think it's a pretty clever way to help mitigate that dice-luck issue that some people can have.

I'm behind a couple episodes (stupid me forgot his ipod on a two week trip), but had one thought on Airships.

Our group found that the game ended too fast.  Like, you're building up this great airship building machine, and then you build 1-2 airships, and the game ends (especially in 4 person games).  We found that the "Hindenberg f9inished or one or less ship left in each stack" rule was to blame.  So we modified it to "until the Hindenberg is done or only one airship remains in any stack"  It's a small change, but for our group, the extra couple minutes, and extra couple rolls just finally made it feel more full.  So that's the way we play it now. 

I realize we could play several games in a row, but I think our group prefers to see how well our "machine" actually works, rather than the building of said "machine"  It's one of my favorite recent games either way.