Episode 87: Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

87: Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Release Date: Sept. 28, 2009

Running Time: 134 min.

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Tumble along with the tumblin' tumble-cubes. We dive into Dave's greatest passion in games: dice! We shake our way from the wild West to ancient Egypt, reviewing Dice Town and Ra: the Dice Game. 

News & Notes: Chessex Europe, Arkham Horror Dice, Libraries Got Game
The List: Dice Town, Ra: The Dice Game
Table Talk: Letter Roll
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Hoo Hey How

Truckloads of Goober:  Tumblin' Dice
Game Sommelier:  5 games with randomizers that would be made better w/ dice.
Mail Bag: Avus Autorennin, Major Fun in Indy, Ancient game components & more

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Chessex Opens European Branches  Link

Offices in Germany and Britain will ofer the full line of Chessex dice and game accessories.

Catan Dice Game Deluxe Edition   Official Site | BGG

New version includes a dice cup and non-wooden dice.

Tomb Dice  Official Site | BGG

30 custom dice for dungeon crawling.

Arkham Horror Dice   Official Site | BGG

Intricately carved Cthulian dice complete with Elder Signs.

Libraries Got Game   Library Gamer Blog | ALA Site

A book co-written by Spieler Brian Mayer and Christopher Harris.

Official blurb: A much-talked-about topic gets thorough consideration from two educator-librarians, who explain exactly how designer board games—which are worlds apart from games produced strictly for the educational market— can become curricular staples for students young and old. 

Spiel-a-thon 2009  Link

We have a date and time! Saturday, Nov. 21 4:30 - 7:00 PM. Come join us for fun, games, and help support a great cause.

The List

Dice Town Official Site | BGG

Build your best poker hand, dig in the mines, rob the bank, bribe the Sheriff or take a swig at the saloon. Collect the most nuggets, sawbucks, and property claims to become the Mayor of Dice Town

Ra: The Dice Game Official Site | BGG

Roll dice Yahtzee style to build your score through three epochs of Egyptian history using Pharaohs, boats on the Nile, civilization and monuments.

Table Talk

Letter Roll  BGG | Official Site

Roll dice, use the letters to find as many words as you can before the timer runs out.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Hoo Hey How  BGG 

Asian gambling game using dice with Fish, Shrimp and Crabs. Variant of the British game Crown and Anchor.

Truckloads of Goober

Tumblin' Dice   BGG | Official Site

Great dexterity dice game for all ages. Flick your dice down the board and try to knock your opponent's off. Addictively fun!

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 5 games with randomizers (spinners, drawing lots, etc.) that would be made better by using dice instead.

The Game of Life



Arkham Horror

Robo Rally

Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

Stefan "Der Spaßvogel" Rothschuh

Anni "The Aristocrat" Foasberg

Scott "Sultan of Souk" Bolderson

Hannah "Cannonball" Bellwoar

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

Travis "Tensider" Bryant

Mail Bag

Howdy to Major Fun (aka Bernie DeKoven), our neighbor here in Indianapolis!

Thanks to David Siskin for the tip on Okko's custom dice.


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Walk Like an Egyptian" - by XSS - buy the mp3

"Egyptian Ella" - by  Fatima Spas und die Freedom Fries - buy the mp3

"Rollin Rollin" - by Five Stone - buy the mp3


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


I am going to have to give one or more of these games a chance.

I have always had a negative reaction when I have heard about "dice games", which is surprising since almost all of my favorite games include dice. I think my perception has been that with dice games, it is all about the dice, and Yahtzee is fine for that.

What I am hearing is that there is a lot more to these games (ok, some at least) than just the dice. If I can look at them as games with dice, rather than dice with a game, then maybe I can get over my bias.

We have both types of music at Bob's Country Bunker. We have Country and we have Western.

Dice Town sounds like a hoot - I really must check that one out. As you say, there's also a possibility around a number of variants in the same style as poker, which got me to thinking that maybe you could also have a card driven version, too (although that may seem sacrilige to the dicemonsters).

RA sounded less exciting but your commentary on it did leave me somewhat confused. You stated that it was unfair to compare it to the original because it was so different and could have been about anything.

Hmm.. let' see. There are three epochs and each one ends when the Ra figurine gets to the end of the track. Mounments are only scored at the end. You get punished for having no civilisations but progressively higher scores for more, There are disasters, You collect Nile points only when the river floods... I could go on. The only fundamental difference between the two, it seems to me, is that in one you gain the tiles by bidding and in the other you gain position on the tracks through the dice.

This is not necessarily a bad thing - it would appear that this should be seen as a sister game: same overall mechanics and scoring system but with a dice twist - and inevitably this is how it will (and should be) compared. To try and argue otherwise seems disingenuos.

In many ways this is similar to the Tigris and Euphrates Card Game. It's not "Tigris Lite" - it's Tigris but with a card mechanic not a tile and cube mechanic. It needs to stand on it's own two feet, but comparisons with the original are fair. I like both, they give me different experiences but with very similar mechanics.

Likewise here, with Ra, although it sounds like it may have fallen a little short of the overall elegance of its sibling.

To then go on and point out the complete lack of interaction between the game play and the theme also seems inconsistent after you have referred to Ra: the Boardgame as a classic. That also has the identical lack of connection between theme and mechanic. (Ra's theme is so paper thin that it was easily remade into a card game, about the mafia, Razzia. A theme which actually seemed to fit better imnsho)

I like the original Ra. I think its a great game. The pasted theme doesn't bother me - but, if it did, it would bother me equally in both the boardgame and the dice game.

So - I demand a recount.

A reroll.

Still, of the two, Dice Town is way further up my list :-)

It's fair to point out that we didn't mention the four scoring areas are borrowed directly from the orginal. A point also made by Andres on the BGG Guild.

My point, which may have been lost a bit in the discussion, is that Ra the original game is a classic because of its elegant mechanics, certainly not because of its theme. It's easy to learn, interactive, just plain fun whether you're building pyramids or not.

By invoking Ra and giving the dice game the same title, the publisher is trying to attract players to buy it because of the pedigree of the earlier successful game. Again, that pedigree, its success, is based on the mechanics of that game, not the theme. My expectation is, therefore, that a new Ra game will exhibit some of the same elegance and ease of play in its mechanics.

There may be more surface similarities between the two than we emphasized, but the real litmus test for a game called Ra are the mechanics and in that respect I find it sorely lacking in comparison to the original. I am not saying I want the game to be a carbon copy of the first game's mechanics. The connection is more a philosophical one. The dice mechanics can stray  from the original (it doesn't have to be an auction game) as long as they remain easy to learn, interactive and just plain fun.

The publisher invites comparison by making the dice game a successor to the Ra's empire. I think it's only fair to point out when those comparisons don't extend beyond the surface.

"What makes a Ra game a Ra game?" seems to be the central question for me.

The mechanics carry the day in the original and make it a classic. I find the dice version lacking in this regard. And for a game named Ra, that's disappointing.

If you can set aside these expectations and take it on its own terms, it can be a decent little game. Dave had much less problem doing this. For me, it was more difficult since those comparisons are begging to be made.

I'm not sure if we are disagreeing here but I kind of see what you are saying.

My point, though, is that Ra: the Dice Game should be compared with Ra the original and, if it is found lacking (which seems to be the case), then so be it, You seemed to be arguing that it was slightly unfair to be linking it with the original and that the "marketing men" were making a mistake by selling the connection -but what else could they do? This is clearly Ra but with an attempt at a dice twist.

Hey, am I defending the marketing profession? The world has gone mad !

One does have to wonder about the logic of taking a classic and then creating a sibling which loses something but gains nothing. (For example playing in half the time or adding a new layer of interactivity).

Of course, I say this without having tried the game. I have to confess that all these 'dice variants' of popular classics do very little for me. I'd much rather new dice games that come forward with an innovative idea (Yspahan being a good example and, perhaps, Dice Town). 

It tickles me that somehow you have ended up the defender of Marketing. :)

I'll try again. I'm not saying it's wrongheaded for the Marketing peeps to beg for the comparison to the original. But the bar is set in terms of surface AND substance when judging the game. To me, the connection to the orginal doesn't extend much beyond the surface. Yes, you have pointed out the scoring areas synch up, but that's not nearly enough to sell me on it. If you only intend for the surface of the game to match and not the substance, it begs the question: why try to make the game a "thematic sequel" in the first place. Why not let the game stand/fall on its own merits? Easy answer is, it probably can't so you disguise this by making it part of a "brand." I understand the business strategy behind it, surely, but it still wrankles me.

Like you, I'd rather see time and effort poured into new games that can stand on their own or enhancing/expanding already great ones.

You two going back and forth made me go out and do a little research: I wanted to know if the game was originally sold as Ra: The Dice Game, or if (like Celtis) it got a facelift for the English speaking market.

Alas, Abacus Spiele has the game listed as Ra: The Dice Game as well, so I would guess it was Ra from the get go.

Certainly not the first time someone has tried to take advantage of a popular brand :) In fact I enjoyed a few games of Sorry Sliders over my birthday weekend with the boys...


Slip over to Youtube or some similar site, do a search for "Bill Hicks advertising marketing." and look for the piece that begins with those words. What he said.


Ah, the late and great Bill Hicks.

I don't think I need to go over to YouTube to find the quote you're meaning. He's one of my comedy heroes.

oh, great show, by the way. (sorry I was ranting earlier)

I've had Walk Like an Egyptian stuck in my head since Monday. Make it stop! It looks like the Nemesis has become the... Nemesee? You know, the other guy.

If it sticks in the editor's head, it's only fair it gets stuck in yours as well.

For me, I've been humming Tumblin' Tumbleweeds all week. Maybe I need to watch The Big Lebowski...

I prefer the Bangles version :-)

We poor podcasters have to settle for the royalty free cover bands.

Really, I've mostly been singing the version from a recent Family Guy episode:



Still, though, it's JUST AS BAD.


Now that's damned peculiar. I assumed the version of "Walk Like An Egyptian" was some remix I'd never heard (I liked that album, sue me)- even if it's a cover version, shouldn't the songwriters still come in for some sort of royalties? I've been curious about the legal complexities surrounding your use of music for some time. It's strange, the music is such a integral component of the show's personality, yet since it's open for use it shows up in places completely beyond Spiel control. Adam and Joe's podcast on BBC6 (which I highly recommend to those in need of silliness) makes amusing use of that French accordion track for example, while I've run across the "Spiel theme" itself used in- er- odd places, leave it at that. Let's just move swiftly on, shall we?
As to this week's offering, how nice to hear at long last from Whistlin' Pete! I've been following his exploits for some time, having been given no option but to help the authorities with their extensive inquiries. I can't wait for that face-to-face interview between him and Stephen in the first Spiel vodcast as up to now, all I've had to go on it this rough identikit sketch based on descriptions from witnesses of the last unfortunate "incident". Disapponted that you didn't let him actually whistle though since that is after all what he's famous for. Well, that and the- other thing. Let's just move swiftly on, shall we?
Quibbling slightly (don't worry, I'll clean it up) with the sommelier- the clickety-clack spinner was the only amusing thing about The Game of Life; eliminating it wouldn't help. (Interestingly enough the whole reason we ever had spinners, teetotums and the like is partially because of the kind of moral crusaders you discuss in the Spotlight. Dice seem to have been considered too morally debased for polite homes until "redeemed" by the runaway success in the mid-1930s of Monopoly.) And as far as Arkham Horror, that was indeed the original method used by not only the Chaosium game but a wide variety of games from the late 1970's and 1980's. I know this may sound strange coming from me, but rolling against tables feels clunky and awkward to me now. Indeed, some games from my own youth- all those gloriously overcomplicated SPI, AH, SJG and TSR offerings- ironically feel more badly dated to me now than many games from the 30's, 40's and especially the 60's and early 70's. That's one reason I've been on the fence about the recent rerelease of Tales From The Arabian Nights. Stephen's point, though, about- hang about, did he just say that a game would have been better with its original roll-and-move mechanic? Good grief; I should get off the street! One shouldn't get caught walking underneath the 1st Porcine Airborne Bombadiers! (Swine flew, indeed...) Let's just move swiftly on, shall we?
Lastly, the concept of a Hold 'Em inspired game in which players have certain dice in common is intriguing, but I fear it could run into problems if the title were to be misjudged. I imagine this conversation on a convention floor:
"So you see players throw the dice, but certain dice work for the whole table. It's like they're community dice that all the playes throw together."
"I see. So since you have this concept of the group throwing certain dice that would be used equally by one or more players, you've naturally enough called your game..."
"'Joint Rolling', yes."
"I... see.  Uh, catchy. Well, Mr. Coleson, I'll be frank. The bad news is that this title gives the consumer a completely misleading and perhaps ultimately disappointing idea of what kind of a game this is."
"Oh dear. And the good news?"
"Looney Labs has expressed interest in publishing it."
I'll just move swiftly on, shall I?

our local sheriff is putting together a posse to flush out Whistlin' Pete

they say he's holed up in Indiana

Whistlin' Pete is a wanderer by nature, but I hear tell he fancies a few waterin' holes in this neck of the woods. You might hear from him again.

As for the music, 99% of the clips/loops we use come from either Garage Band or Ioda Promonet. That means the clips are used with permission or are royalty free. If I use a short clip for a Name That Game puzzle, I don't sweat the rights issues since I am (in a weird way) re-mixing it with otehr content. The few occasions where I slip in a recognizable non-cover track, I err on the side of making the show hang together the way I'd like it to and I'll gladly deal with any issues if they arise.

Dave hasn't played or seen many of the expansions to Arkham Horror, so I think his beef with the newer version is he wanted more variety of encounters at the locations around town. I think the expansions have dealt with this to a large extent. Charts have the same kind of drawback in that they can be memorized if they aren't extensive. 

I'm not categorically against roll and move as a mechanic in games. It just needs to be implemented correctly. In the older game, investigators are able to move around the board and get to locations more easily due to how the map is laid out and the taxi stations. When the monsters begin to patrol the streets, there can be bottlenecks to certain locations, but they don't cut off most of the board. The taxis allow players to move around the monsters as long as they can find a path that isn't blocked by a big bad tentacled thing. The new Arkham gets completely bogged down in just being able to move around the city and I find that extremely frustrating, especially since the original game seemed to have addressed this issue. Wonder why they felt the need to change it?

You might need to update the theme for the "joint-rolling" game. I can hear the marketing machines spinning up. Grass: The Dice Game.

Is it me or is that Noddy Holder rolling the dice on the box cover of Dice Town?


I said mama we're all crazeee now

It must be Noddy's long lost Pioneer cousin.

Perhaps he was bringing Cribbage to the colonies. Noddy, was the game from which Cribbage evolved. Coincidence? I think not!

I had not heard the original "Cum on Feel the Noize." Thanks for posting the link, Mark. Much better than Quiet Riot!

I had to remember who Noddy Holder was, but the picture reminded me. It does look a bit like him!  Slade wasn't very well known on this side of the pond, though Quiet Riot had great success with Cum on Feel the Noize and also covered Mama we're all Crazee Now, too.


And here's YouTube link so that you can bask in the Noddy goodness.

I always end up posting a new comment instead of replying. I suck.

Your minor misdemeanor is irrelevant following the beauty of your Youtube post.

The world needs more Noddy Holder and you gave it to them,