Episode 68: That's A Wrap - 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

68: That's A Wrap

2008 Holiday Gift Guide

Release Date: Dec. 8, 2008

Running Time: 138 min.

Listen Now:

Download: Enhanced Version - MP3 Version

Subscribe via iTunes: Enhanced - MP3

See sidebar for other subscription options


We got game. Lots of 'em. With over 50 gift suggestions in dozens of categories, you're sure to find a great game for almost everyone on your list.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

Having many years of experience in retail, most people who need help shopping ask one of two questions:

I need a gift for someone who's X years old


I need a gift for a someone who really likes X.

This year, we are using the second question as the basis for our gift guide. The following list of suggestions is divided into categories of interests. 24 of them, to be exact. While the list is certainly not comprehensive, we're betting a lot of people on your list share one or more of these passions. We include games across the spectrum from party and kid's games to games for non-gamers and games for the hard-core geeks.

We hope everyone has a great holiday season filled with fun and games!


Hollywood Blockbuster BGG

Deadwood BGG |

Grave Robbers From Outer Space BGG | Z-Man

Showbiz Shuffle BGG | Blood & Cardstock


Schrille Stille BGG 

Electronic Catch Phrase: Music Edition BGG | Parker Brothers


Tomb BGG | AEG

World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game BGG | Fantasy Flight

Talisman Revised 4th Edition BGG | Fantasy Flight

Science Fiction

Galaxy Trucker BGG | Rio Grande

Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game BGG | Fantasy Flight

Race for the Galaxy BGG | Rio Grande

Space Alert BGG | Czech Games

Galactic Emperor BGG | Cross Cut Games


Wasabi BGG | Z-Man

Mamma Mia BGG | Rio Grande

Chateau Roquefort BGG | Rio Grande

Lord of the Fries BGG

Chopstick Dexterity Mega-Challenge 3000 BGG | Pair-of-Dice


Weinhandler BGG | Mayfair

Red November BGG | Fantasy Flight

Red Dragon Inn BGG | Slugfest


Moto Grand Prix BGG | Fantasy Flight

Pizza Box Baseball BGG | On the Line

Battle Ball BGG

Griddly Heads Sports Games BGG | Griddly Games

Outdoor Activities

Timber Tom BGG | PYXI

If Wishes Were Fishes BGG | Rio Grande


Dominion BGG | Rio Grande

Take It Easy BGG | Burley Games


Pandemic BGG | Z-Man

Polarity BGG | Ferti

Primordial Soup BGG | Z-Man


Ghost Stories BGG | Asmodee

Witch's Brew BGG | Rio Grande


Name of the Rose BGG | Ravensburger

Rapid Croco BGG | Cocktail Games

Murder City BGG | White Wolf

Android BGG | Fantasy Flight


Monsterpocalypse BGG | Privateer Press

Mah Jongg BGG | Mah Jongg Maven


Dragon Shire Medieval Village  Fat Dragon Games

Micropul (print and play game) BGG

Ghoulash (print and play 1st scenario) BGG | Ghoulash Games


Bloom BGG | QWG

The Hanging Gardens BGG | Rio Grande

Agricola BGG | Z-Man

Tulipmania 1637 BGG | JKLM


Duck, Duck, Go! BGG | APE Games

Have You Herd? BGG | Winning Moves

Pengoloo BGG | Blue Orange Games

Animal on Animal BGG | HABA


Journey to the Center of the Earth BGG | Mayfair

Beowulf: The Legend BGG | Fantasy Flight

Mystery of the Abbey BGG | Days of Wonder


Here I Stand BGG | GMT

1960: Making of the President BGG | Z-Man

Twilight Struggle BGG | GMT

Sylla BGG | Ystari

Amyitis BGG | Ystari

Thurn & Taxis BGG | Rio Grande


Time's Up Deluxe BGG | R&R

Say Anything BGG | North Star

Portrayal BGG | Braincog


Perudo BGG | Pressman

Wits & Wagers BGG | North Star


Score iPhone App Link

Mach Dice iPhone App Link

Shop Savvy G1 Phone App Link

Xbox Live Board Games Link


On the Dot BGG | Gamewright

Ubongo: Das Duel BGG | Z-Man

Santy Anno BGG | Repos Production


Cluzzle BGG | North Star

Backseat Drawing BGG | Out of the Box

Modern Art BGG | Mayfair


 Lost Cities: The Board Game BGG | Rio Grande

Jet Set BGG | Wattsalpoag

10 Days Series BGG | Out of the Box


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



My friends who were injured during the Street Paintball game were Beth and John. I'm not sure I'd recommend the game, but I'll always smile at the memory.

I'm halfway done with the episode... It'll make my drive to and from the job site easier tomorrow!

Thanks for filling in the names for me. You were definitely right to make us wait and play later at night and with the maximum number of people. That was probably the ideal situation to try Street Paintball. Glad we got to play, but not sure I need to ever do it again.

At least not without a mouthguard!

What was the name of that deduction game you mentined with crocs pointing at each other?  I think it was from a French publisher.  Thanks in advance.

Rapid Croco is the game you're looking for. The link is listed in the Mysteries section above.

There are a variety of games to choose from this year and of course you need to find your favorite one. Did you already do that? If not, we could all make a list with top 3 games from each category according to our favorite types.


Promotional Pens

Very well structured show and at last the voice of the oft-mentioned, never heard Francie (sp?).

Thanks for sending me back to the thrift store to scoop their copy of Beowulf and keep an eye out for Red November. The game's kind of a mess, but an enjoyable mess. The real perk is seeing how much game they've crammed into a small box for a small price- this could be what those paperback games I mentioned might look like.

The only thing, speaking of prices, is being a bit stunned and wondering where you guys find your games; the prices you quote are often well below the best I've been able to find, especially in the case of Galaxy Trucker.

Francie says she's shy, but don't believe that for a second. She's as big a goofball as the rest of us. Case in point, her holiday challenges.... We just need her to speak up when she's in front of the mics!

I am looking forward to Red November, for sure. Sort of like Cold War CIA vs KGB, they have upped the ante on the quality with the small silver line games.

For bargains, we usually start by checking out boardgameprices.com. It searches most of the major online game retailers with one simple search. It includes international stores as well. Check it out.

Dang... now I have another bunch of games I need to buy. Curse you all !

I really liked the show structure. I think it helps debunk the oft repeated 'gateway game' rumour and instead focuses on the idea "hey, you like sport ? try this game".

That is to say, people are drawn to games based on their areas of interest. I've had much success with this approach bringing a friend into the hobby via War of the Ring, principally because he is such a Tolkein nut.

So - great structure and good thinking outside the (giftwrapped) box.

An additional themes which I think it would be worth covering is Economics / Business. I have a lot of friends who are really into their MBAs or running their own businesses. I also have a friend in procurement. For them, the whole business area is virtually a hobby.

So, with them I play, Acquire and Burn Rate - both very popular.

Any suggestions from the latest crop ?

I also have a lot of buddies who are into the technology and messing around on the internet. It kind of touches on the gadgets theme but when I play board games with them I focus on Robo Rally (for the Programmer in them), Netrunner (still very popular in my house) and - once again - Burn Rate (as it bursts the dot com bubble)

Just my 2c. Which is all I'll have left after I buy this crop.

I wasn't sure how everyone would react to the different structure, but I think there's a lot of merit to thinking about different ways people may be drawn into playing some games.

The big challenge with the structure was coming up with a manageable list of interests. I was sure we were leaving out a TON of good ones, but I was hoping you intrepid listeners would bail us out by filling in the gaps. So far so good!

Economics and Business is a great category. You might even throw in the new reprint of Chinatown.

Robo Rally would be an excellent choice for tech-heads. The new Space Alert has a huge element of programmed movement also. For robot lovers (a kind of tech), you could do Robot Master from Cocktail Games or Get Bit, a game about Sharks dismembering robots from Robot Martini Games.

Steerpike, your 2c worth is really 2p, right? GIven the current economy, you're still money ahead on us Americans.


From the newer crop of games, for econ/business I'd go with Power Grid hands-down. It's one of the games that will probably come out in our group for years. You might also try Container for some hard-core econ, and Imperial for some politically-related econ. Airlines is an old Alan Moon game a lot like Acquire but about well... air travel.

Hope that helps!

-- Joe

Power Grid is a perfect suggestion for a Business category. The balancing act you have to play in  in order to succeed would get an Econ person's juices flowing!

Thanks for the tip on Airlines. Haven't played that one. Also, I had no idea it was re-implemented as Union Pacific. Neato.

some cool ideas - thanks !

I'm a big fan of Power Grid and am interested in some of the new rules tweaks that seem to have come with the China/Korea maps.

Container I have not yet tried so thanks for the suggestions.

Thanks for mentioning my Score app on the show! :)

You're very welcome, Ryan.

I like how you keep refining it and adding new plug-ins for additional games. Very cool.

I failed to mention your other app, BGG.

Here's a list of features. This application provides access to:

- BoardGameGeek game Stats
- What Games are in your collection
- Games in your wish list
- Game Search
- Log Plays of games that you have played

Just a quick note to say that having gotten the chance to break in that copy of Beowulf, I'm still glad you talked me out of passing it up, especially because it led to the coining of a new term around here. As with many of Dr. Knizia's games which are frequently described as thinly themed, Beowulf is basically an auction game that probably could have been about any number of other subjects without changing the actual play much. But the fantastic artwork by the same artist as the more deeply themed Lord Of The Rings and the nifty chevron shaped board throw such a flashy backdrop behind it that it made me suddenly see it in the light of another school of games where the gameplay is a series of variations on a theme but the artwork is flashy and attractive enough to change things up. Halfway through I said, "Aesthetically, it's kind of like the board game equivalent of a really cool pinball machine!" So from here on, rather than thinking of something as having a "pasted-on theme",  I may  think of it as a "pinball" game.  Thanks again.

Nice way to reframe the debate!

Maybe there are two different interpretations of theme in play here, depending on the publisher or designer.

One definition requires the game's theme to be integrated into all aspects of the experience from the rules, to the components, to the artwork. The other definition is more like the blinky lights and jazzy art on the pinball machines. Each definition may have a common purpose: to get someone to play the game. In the first definition, the theme is assumed to be integral to the fun you'll have with the game. In the second, the theme is more like bait to get you to the fun. Perhaps it's this bait and switch tactic that makes people cranky. If the underlying game mechanics are fun, though, I don't feel cheated if a game sucks me in with a theme I find appealing.

Like your pinball analaogy maybe B-movie posters can give us some clues. The posters often depicted monsters and ladies far more fantastic and attractive in scenes that were at best tangentially related to the actual film. But the posters sold the promise, the idea of the movie, so well that people flocked to theatres even though most (if not all) moviegoers knew the film would deliver something different than what they saw on lobby wall. As long as the movie was entertaining, audiences went home happy.

And that's really the benchmark here, isn't it?


Some games (like some movies) deliver a complete seamlessly integrated experience. Others don't and aren't ever concerned with doing so. Yet both can provide a lot of enjoyment in their own right. I don't see it as a double standard to say you can like both types of games. How is it different from saying I enjoy Oscar caliber films but I also liked Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.

Perhaps in the movie world it is easier because it is usually more clear going in which kind of film you are in for. With games, you may not know until you're through playing the first time!

Harold and Kumar go to White Castle ???

Dude, where can I rent that film ? It sounds awesome !

"Ever since I was a young boy,
Ive played the silver ball.
from soho down to brighton I must have played them all
But I aint seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall...
That deaf dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!"

Goober and theme as pinball variants - interesting thesis. I look forward to the white paper.

What is it with gamers and theme ? And do we really use the term theme correctly ? Surely the theme of the game is "Auction" and "set collection" but the setting of the game is Olde English Legende. So, yes, we can change the setting (or the pinball machine) of the game and still have fun with the new flavour.

My favourite pinball theme (and yes I'm off at a tangent now) was "Flash Gordon". We had a fantastic one in our university dorm that used to mock passers by with great soundbites like: "Emporer Ming Awaits" followd by a maniacal laugh. When the game was over it would laugh again and sneer "try again earthling". It really was a great machine and could teach Reiner knizia a thing or two about pasting on a theme.


I'm going to start a forum post on "what I got for Christmas" so that we can all share the love. I'd be interested to hear what Santa brings everyone.


ps Agree that Beowulf is a top game. Nice eye candy and some interesting tilt mechanics

Thanks, wasn't sure if I was able to get that across or not but that's it- do you get the feeling of piloting a rocket across the sky of Mongo? No, you're still basically just playing pinball but the bells and whistles are still pretty cool and add to the experience. I "tilted" Beowulf hard on our play by the way, having collected enough wounds and misfortune to almost negate my score completely.

And happy new year back to you in the UK; pull a cracker and wear the silly paper hat for all of us here in the States.

Hey, I wear those paper hats all the time - not just at Christmas !

Beowulf is certainly a game with plenty of tilt possibilities. Especially when you get into those round robin auctions and one player just sits there 'taking a risk' each turn and getting what he needs, while you're there burning your hand up. Man, that can really suck.

One game I always tilt too far is Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. I always seem to get lobbed to the crocs, at the end, to satisy Sobek. Must be pure evil I guess.

(or "a touch of evil", at least)

Thanks for your kind words about my iPhone app, Mach Dice! I wrote a post about The Spiel on my blog so now we've got recursive linking. I loved all the different categories of games and learned about a couple new ones to put on my wishlist. Great episode!

Thanks, Mach.

Great job with the dice app! Seems like a must-have for any sort of gamer. The physics of the rolling seems very true to life. Easy to tell you put a lot of time and effort into it.

Keep us posted if you have any other game related apps and we'll be sure to spread the word.

I think Mach Dice looks awesome!

I also think this photo from the geek is pretty funny: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/409164

That iBones Shaker is hilarious! Perhaps Dave needs one...

Certainly more in line with The Spiel budget! Thanks for the link.