Episode 78: Driven to Abstraction

78: Driven to Abstraction

Release Date: May 11, 2009

Running Time: 142 min.

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These games have potential, literally. If there's a modern rival to chess, it's the Gipf Project. In this mega-episode, we play Ultimate Gipf and the final game in the series, Tzaar.

News & Notes: Game Journals, Fits, Mensa Winners, Qwirkle Cib
The List: Ultimate Gipf, Tzaar
Back Shelf Spotlight: 

Table Talk:  Miracle Five
Truckloads of Goober:  Yali
Game Sommelier:  5 games for the 5 Star Trek Captains
Mail Bag: Poisoned Poll, Spiel Index, Swedish "Millionaire"

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Spiel Game Journals  Link

We are offering Spiel-themed Game Journals as a way to help support the show. Thanks to Genimuse and Brad Keen for their help! Click here for more information

Fits   BGG | Official Site

A new Tetris-y simultaneous puzzle game from Ravensburger and Reiner Knizia.

Mensa Mind Games Winners  Official Site

The Mensa Select Game Award Winners for 2009 have been announced:

        Cornerstone - Good Company Games - BGG

        Dominion - Rio Grande Games - BGG

        Marrakech - Fundex Games - BGG

        Stratum - Family Games America - BGG

        Tic-Tac-Ku - Mad Cave Bird Games - BGG

Qwirkle Cubes   BGG | Official Site

This new variant on Qwirkle allows you to roll your pieces in order to get a more favorable group of symbols or colors.

Origins Awards Nominees  Link

The list of nominees for the 35th annual awards is now available!

New Contest

Your Move!  Link

New sponsor, new dice, time for a new contest. Introducing Your Move! Head over to the forum to see the format for the new contest. Over time, we'll have several varieties of Your Move contests and cycle through them. The emphasis in Your Move is on participation. Name That Game may burn your brain, but this one shouldn't. We'll pick a winner at random from all the entries and the winner will receive a set of coveted Spiel dice!

The List

Ultimate Gipf Official Site | BGG

WThe Gipf Project sets the standard for modern abstract strategy board games. Ultimate Gipf involves using Potentials, pieces that are loaded onto standard discs each with its own set of moves and rules. These potentials echoe game mechanics and themes from the other six games in the Gipf Project: Tamsk, Zertz, Dvonn, Yinsh, Punct, and Tzaar.

Tzaar Official Site | BGG

The final game in the Gipf series replaces Tamsk as one of the core titles in the Project.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Breakthru  BGG 

Classic 3-M game which is a descendant of Hnefatafl

Table Talk

Miracle Five  BGG 

Light, fast strategy game from Bandai with echoes of Go and Pente.

Truckloads of Goober

Yali BGG

Teeter-totter board indicates when one player's turn ends and the other's begins.

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 5 games to fit each of the 5 Star Trek Captains.

Ghost Stories - Kirk  BGG | Official Site

Thebes - Picard   BGG | Official Site

Strat-o-matic Baseball - Sisko  BGG | Official Site

Leonardo DaVinci - Janeway  BGG | Official Site

Musketeers - Archer  BGG

New Challenge: 5 games to play on a school bus

Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

Timothy "The Zookeeper" Stellmach

Tom "Omaha Beach" Gurganus

Brian "Fire & Axe" Strange

Ken "Mr. Corkinole" Maher

Joe "El Grande" Cochran

Chris "That's My (Fly) Fish" Johnson

Christopher "The Haunter" Pastore

Leigh "Dice with Death" Caple

Robin "The Potentializer"

Mail Bag

Congrat to listener Patrik Stromer for winning big on Millionaire!

Thanks to Simon "The Ziggurat" Wilcock for the cool Hungarian playing cards.

Thanks also to Andres Pabon for compiling a fantastic index of all the games we have covered in *every* episode of the show and posting them to Board Game Geek! Here's the Geek List.


The background artwork in the Episode Title is a Color Study by Wassily Kandinsky, a noted abstract artist.

Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Bye Bye Brain" - Groovie Ghoulies - buy the mp3

"I Been Thinkin'" - Eddie C. Campbell - buy the mp3

"Think" - JPQ Quartet - buy the mp3

"Let Me Think About It" - Ida Corr & Fedde le Grand - buy the mp3

"Think" - Chemystry Set - buy the mp3


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


I couldn't post on the journal page, so I will just put the question here.

Will you have copies of the journals at the various functions you will be at? If someone wants to get one at an event, then that additional shipping cost would go towards The Spiel instead of USPS or whoever.

If all goes well and we get enough pre-orders to get the ball rolling with the journals, then yes, we'll have Brad (our volunteer shipper - thanks again Brad!) bring the journals to cons and we can sell some there.

Thanks for explaining Gipf potentials; I knew that once I’d started with these, I had to get them all. Speaking of cool yet unintuitive pieces, how about an Icehouse pyramid segment?

As to the Trek film, while I did enjoy myself, be warned that while they may “breathe new life” into the franchise, they suck out its brain on the inhale.

I'd like to go crazy with Icehouse sometime, but I feel like I need full immersion in a bunch of the different games. So far, I have only played Treehouse. Ah yes, another project for The List...

As for Trek, I haven't seen it yet. Waiting for the hype and crowds to die down a bit and then I'll sneak in for a late show. I am equal parts dread and anticipation for the very reason you describe.

Just getting started with the show, but I can't continue until I mention that Qwirkle cannot be played with 5 to 8% of men.   Absolutely one of the worst games for anyone with a colour deficiency.   Too bad as it looks like it would be cool.   

As Will said, I think you could easily modify a set of Qwirkle tiles by painting dots or numberson the cubes to indicate color.

We actually did a Sommelier challenge about games for players with impaired vision. If my brain was firing on all cylinders, I would remember which episode.... Ah yes there it is, Episode 27.

While I totally understand what you're saying, it's not entirely true.

I had a teacher once that couldn't possibly manage to play this game...but I had a friend in the same class that could easily play the game...he just wouldn't be playing with green/red/blue/yellow etc. He couldn't tell you which color he had in his hand, but he could compare it to the pieces on the board.

I'm not sure how common either version of color blindness are, but it's not all created equal.

And then again...I don't think you can really design games in a way that is worse for 97% of the world because 3% won't be able to play.  The target market of any product really isn't that high. Not to mention that there is probably a lesser percentage of people that play color based pattern recognition games...and are also colorblind.

I'm not saying that as an insult, it's just that people gravitate towards things they enjoy and if you're colorblind you may avoid these types of games.

You may avoid badminton if you had one artificial leg. (Personally my handwriting is terrible...frankly embarassing..I will often not leave a short hand written note if i can find ANY way around it, it's why I never write letters to people even though I think it's very intimate and personal)

I'm a business major, so it's kind of my place to defend these types of things. Also Qwirkle rocks. if you spent some time with a whiteout pen..you could just assign each color a specific number.

(misthreaded; reply to above)

On Icehouse, two words- Zendo. Volcano.

On the new Trek, two words- Product placement.