Episode 48: Worker Bees

48: Worker Bees

Release Date: February 18, 2008

Running Time: 100 min.

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ep 48

Roll up your sleeves. Time to get your hands dirty. We chop wood and cut stone to build Kingsbridge Cathedral in Pillars of the Earth and send our swarms out to surround Queen bees in the strategy classic Hive.

News & Notes: On the Dot, Metropolys, Aquaretto, no more Talisman
The List: Hive, Pillars of the Earth
Name That Game: Win Knowbody Knows from Uncle Rez Games
Backshelf Spotlight:
Torres, Iron Dragon
Truckloads of Goober:
Fat Demons (Dicke Damonen)
Notes from the OCD:
Build a database for your game collection
Mail Bag:
Game Storm and MavenCon

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Game News & Notes

Metropolys Official Site | BGG Entry

The awe-inspiring Metropolys is in effervescence! Talented Urban planners and architects rival each other to make luxury, elegant buildings of glass and steel defying the laws of balance grow from the ground. Who will eventually impose their style to leave an indelible trail in the history of the city? The answer is in your hands!

On the Dot Official Site | BGG Entry

An American reprint of the French game, Vitrail. See spots like never before! In this amazing brainteaser, try to arrange four transparent squares so they perfectly match the pattern shown on the dots card. Flip, rotate, and overlap the squares to make a “spot on” copy. The challenge is to figure out how they all fit together. Play by yourself or race against others in a Dot-to-Dot Dash.

TransAmerica shifts to Immortal Eyes Imprint BGN Story

Heroscape shifts to Wizards of the Coast BGN Story

Games Workshop Abandons Board Games BGN Story

Hasbro buys Cranium Franchise for $77.5 M Reuters Story

The List

Hive Official Site | BGG entry

Hiveis a board-less, strategic game for 2 players ages 8 and up. The object of the game is to surround your opponent's queen bee while trying to block your opponent from doing the same to your queen bee. Each player has 11 tiles, all in all, representing 5 different insects. The players take turns, either choosing to add a tile to the hive or moving a tile in the hive.

Pillars of the Earth Official Site | BGG entry

Prior Phillip of Kingsbridge has a glorious vision. To build the largest, most beautiful cathedral in England. To accomplish the task, Phillip recruits the most renowned builders in the country. However, the fate of the Cathedral is constantly threatened by all manner of catastrophes and oppositions. The Pillars of the Earth is based on Ken Follett's best-selling novel. Players join together to help build Kingsbridge Cathedral. Using your workmen and resources, you must wisely deploy assets to overcome unexpected difficulties and shortages to prove yourself the greatest builder of them all! Will your efforts be recognized when the Great Cathedral at Kingsbridge is complete?

Backshelf Spotlight

Mystery Connection Contest
Can you find a connection between these two games? We find a mystery connection each episode and challenge you, the listener, to hunt for it! Post your guesses to the Forum . Find the connection and you could win a pair of coveted custom Spiel Dice!

spiel dice

Congratulations to Bruno Depascale our winner for episode 42!

Torres BGG Entry | Official Site

A series of devastating tornadoes, unleashed by enemy mages in the recent war has left all the king’s castles in ruin. Only the foundations of these once magnificent monuments remain. He has charged his sons with rebuilding his castles and promised the throne to the one who can rebuild the tallest and largest castles. Each prince has 6 knights to supervise the building.

Iron Dragon BGG Entry | Official Site

Science, fantasy, and trains mix in the popular game of fun and finances, Iron Dragon. Players lay track across a mythical realm filled with wizards, elves, and rainbow bridges. Genetically-engineered dragons pull boxcars loaded with jewels, magical items, and other treasures from city to city. Dangerous jungles must be crossed, rivers forged, and orcs bribed, as players plan routes and amass money in an attempt to create a fantasy empire. There was an expansion published by Tom Wham (the designer) which is currently offered for sale only through his web site (scroll down half way to find it)

Truckloads of Goober

Fat Demons (Dicke Damonen) BGG Entry | Official Site

A bag of colored string and wooden pawns is all you need for a magical battle between ghosts and demons for control of the world.

fat demon

Notes from the Obsessive Collector's Desk

Dave gives advice on setting up a database for you game collection. He's even willing to share his own database with you! Give him a week or two to make it presentable to the general public and we'll post it here for you to download. Believe me, it's worth the wait!

Mail Bag

Thanks to donors Ian "Canal Maniac" Fleming and Mark "Marathon Man" Weaver

Mark Santillo gave us some great info on GameStorm (March 28-30) a large regional game convention in the Portland Oregon metro area.

John Richard, a local listener and moderator on the GenCon forums, wnated us to know about MavenCon , coming up March 5-7 right here in Indianapolis


Jason Ober pointed out that in Pillars of the Earth the first player gets one opportunity per turn to toss a master builder back into the bag and redraw.

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


I got the Pillars of the Earth novel for Christmas and read it obsessively. It really is a great book, and while the game only tangentially shares a theme with it, it's still pretty cool to recognize the characters and events that are used on the game's cards.

We played the game with three, and on person managed to get the Philip card, in the first round. The one that let you get a bonus point every time you go to the prior(?) (cloister?) so he could reap 3+2 pts potentially. It was too hard for us to catch up.

It felt broken and I've never played it since. Too bad, because it is beautiful and intriguing.

(sorry for still lagging one show behind...)

FYI (from another OCDer):
If you don't want to spend the money buying Access, and/or the time learning it, you can use HanDBase (www.ddhsoftware.com). It's a shareware program that is MUCH cheaper to purchase, is a relational database (sort of; close enough, anyway) that is very very simple to develop for and use, and can be used not only on the desktop but also on PDAs and many smartphones. I set up my own database tracking much of the same things you track (but definitely NOT everything). Check it out: http://www.ddhsoftware.com/gallery.html?show=number&record=2316&UID=/gal...

For those of you listeners who want to try out Hive, but aren't set on getting the fancy, gooberlicious Bakelite tiles...

Mindware is having a huge sale on the wooden block version of the game (It plays exactly the same.) For only $4.95 plus shipping and handling you can pick up a copy. Check it out at= http://www.mindwareonline.com/MWEstore/ProductDetails/ProductDetails.asp...{68b4eac9-a60a-474f-bdbd-828da4cf2e07}

I got this edition after listening to episode 48 and boy am I glad. It's a brain-burning blast! It feels so much like a sort of chess, that when I was playing with a friend and he realized I was going to win the game in 2 moves, despite any move he made to stop me, he said "Checkmate".

First, no apologies needed for lagging behind! Life is crazy, so the shows are here for you whenever you have the time.

On to your point about Philip

Admittedly, I have only played the game a few times and I have never had this situation come up early on. My only strategy thought is couldn't you and your fellow players make an effort to keep the person with Philip from getting this bonus every round? Sure, it may mean you have to expend a master builder token when you have other plans for it, but seems like this strategy might help balance the card's effect on the game.

Hey Snooze, your gamelog is very cool! Thanks for sharing.

There were a bunch of players at MittenCon with their own forms of game logs, recording lots of stuff after every game played. I must admit it was a new experience to me, since I've never had the impulse to record anything more than the fact that each game we own will (we hope) eventually hit the table. Now that being said, I can see how it would be fun to track more specific information over time and you've done a great job of putting that information out ina way that is easy to decipher. I'm not sure I am wired to be dilligent enough to make my playing information interesting or useful, but I am lucky enough to have Mr. OCD as a partner-in-crime! Heh. Especially if he already has something like your form, I can totally see him geeking out on it. :)

Keep in mind that if a player is maximizing those points every turn, it is very likely that they are leaving many points behind in other places.

In our 3-player game last night, a player tried this strategy after getting Philip turn 1. He did well with it, but his resource machine growth was severely limited. The last turn of the game, he was only able to muster a total of 10 points...whereas I, focusing more on metal acquisition, and fine-tuning my work staff, was able to pull off 22 points.

Now, the Philip player still managed to win...by 3 (largely due to turn 2 where I got hosed by the other players, and the event, and was only able to scrape up 2 points...fell wayyy behind there), so maybe the card gave him that edge, but I tend to think in the long run if people make an effort to either exploit the areas the Philip player is faltering in...or block that player from making full use of Philip...it's not as much of a bonus.

Also note, we played 3 players so it was a bit easier for him to fully implement the Philip strategy. I feel in most 4-player games, it wouldn't be as big of a strategy because more master builders are around to gum up the works. I've only played once with 4, and the Philip card came out rather early, and it was almost a non-factor.

Just my 2 zenny.

I forgot to mention a couple of things, which may be of interest to you. Or, at least, to Dave:

1. The HanDBase applet I uploaded, with the addition of a plugin ($5 or $10, I think, from unpluggedideas.com) allows you to take little pictures. It's only low-res (check out some examples, taken in poor lighting, here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/262755) but I added fields to the database to take a single shot (e.g., a picture of your game, for the games table) or to take an album of shots (like the example posted above, for a session report).

2. HDB interfaces with Access. You have to buy the non-basic version, but it's an ODBC compliant database. When you sync with your PDA, you can set the database up to sync with an Access table. Pretty cool, eh?

I've played Pillars a fair few times on BrettSpielWelt and if Philip comes out early then normally one player will nab him and go for the 'Philip Strategy' - although it's not much of a strategy just a mad rush to nab the priory every turn.

It has distinct downsides as the other players - if they know what they are doing - are going to shut you out or make you pay for the privilige of setting a master builder there. By and large they will also be nabbing some of the best craftsmen at the same time.

I've won a fair few times with the Philip Strategy - but similarly, when up against strong opponents, it has also failed miserably.

It certainly does not break the game; it's just one of the many approaches that can be taken in this rich game.

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

Dave was pulling his hair out (heh) trying to figure out how to post the pics in Access. If only he had known about this app. Seems like a great plugin.

I shudder to think about Dave loose in the world with his game database on a PDA! He'd be cataloging his game stuff all the time. :)


Thanks for the corroborating evidence, Steerpike. I like how the Philip card allows you to exert pressure on your opponents but skillful deployment of their builders can certainly overcome the extra victory points you might earn along the way.

Is there something wrong with the rss feed getting updated. It's Tuesday and ITunes still hasn't downloaded the episode. I don't want to just d/l the ep because you'll get hit w/ another d/l when itunes catches up.

I have double checked our feeds (both enhanced and mp3) and I think everything is working as it should.

Perhaps your podcast settings in Itunes are configured in such a way that it has not checked for any new shows? I have my itunes set up to check once a day for new episodes of the shows I subscribe to. That said, it has been my experience that iTunes gets "tired" sometimes and if there is a longer gap between episodes, it will sometimes forget to check for new content. Since we had such a gap with our Winter Break, perhaps your iTunes has decided not to check for new stuff any more. Right click on The Spiel's listing in your iTunes and select Update Podcast and see if that shakes the program out of its slumber.

Let me know what you find out and by all means if anyone else is having problems, let me know, too!


I got mine through iTunes on Monday with no problems. Dunno how to help, maybe resubscribing, or refreshing your podcast list may help? Just tossing out ideas.

Good to have you guys back by the way :)

It's definitely good to be back. Dave and I are already hunkered down planning some great stuff for the rest of the year and we can hardly wait. Woo!

Thanks for reporting in on the feed issue as well. Chime in, the rest of you, especially if you're having issues.

Great to have you guys back - my commute has been an endless round of loud music since you've been gone. (I really must update my iPod with more "driving music")

For once I've actually played both games on the List - although, interestingly given this episodes poll, only electronically; Pillars of the Earth on Brettspielwelt (great implementation there) and Hive over at the Hivemania site.

I've been meaning to pick up Hive for awhile but there is some kind of supply problem to the UK, apparently.

Which leads me to a question. A number of games these days have a 'play the computer' version available on the publishers website. Does this increase the likelihood of buying the game or does it satisfy the itch and mean purchase is not necessary ?

My personal opinion is that I like the "try before you buy" approach. I recently bought "The Battle for Hill 218" because I've enjoyed messing with the AI provided on the Yourmove website. Same with Mr Jack and Hive.
So I think it's a good thing but I'm interested in the take of other Speilers....
We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

The Spiel played really loud would NOT be a good idea. Unless it's Dave playing the trumpet!

I'd encourage you to play both games in their physical face-to-face iterations as well. Not to overplay the impact of goober on a game, but with both these titles there's really an added level of pleasure and fun derived from the great chunky pieces in Hive and the masterful board design with its cube and builder management in Pillars.

I don't see any problem with playing games online, especially ones about which you might be on the fence. Doesn't seem like a cop out to me. If anything I think the number of games I would want to purchase would most likely go up from having had good experiences online. For every one I might reject, there's probably three or four waiting to add to The List. Dang!

My big problem (if you can call it that) is I have the luxury to play games so often with friends face to face and it leaves scarce time for online play. And before someone reminds me, I know, I know one of my resolutions is to get into at least a few online games over the course of the year. I am certain that I would take full advantage of more online play if I wasn't so lucky. In the meantime, I'll try to troll around BSW and some of the other sites as my schedul permits.

Nice to have shows back! This is no comment on previous shows, but you sound refreshed and ready to go.

You sold me on Hive. It has been on my list - a somewhat compulsively ordered wish list of games, for a long time, but never could make it into the all important top six. I ordered it today without even looking more into it. I can't wait to pack it when I take my boys to activities. We can have long down times, and I think my oldest should be able to get this one.

Thanks J Moody! We love doing the show but the break was a welcome respite, too, especially after the crazy marathon. Nothing half measure with us, by jove!

I think one of Hive's strongest points is how much it can appeal to a wide range of players both in terms of age and experience. Since it shares mechanics with chess (piece X moves this way), and there are less types of pieces and the game plays so quickly, I can imagine a lot of kids would really respond to the game. You'll have to let us know how it goes.

Ok, a follow up on how it went. I took Hive with us to the studio today. I played three games with my 8 year old, two games with my 6 year old (I helped a lot), and my 8 year old played two games with a friend. We all loved it, and it worked great. When we go to the studio, there is minimal space, so I look for games that we can play on the floor in a corner, or on a bench or something. We also need quicker games, as the kids rotate through 45 minute classes. My 8 year old said that it is 'an amazing game', and I look forward to many more plays.

Ok, couldn't resist the bad pun, but that's excellent news. Seems like a perfect combination (doesn't take up much room, fast to play, easy(ish) to learn) for your needs. Has to feel good when the young ones really get excited about it! Sounds like they might be asking to play again soon. Thanks for the report.

I totally know where you were coming from, guys, on Pillars of the Earth. It's so simple and makes so much logical sense, but trying to articulate the progression of a turn is like trying to explain colors to a blind man.

I was amazed how my family was understanding and latching onto strategies by the second turn. This is, most definitely, an extremely well-designed game. It's also great to see that you guys enjoyed it so much. This was a very worthy winner of Games Magazine's game of the year.

Yeah, apologies if the 14 steps of Phase 3 in Pillars were clear as mud on the show! Until I sat down and tried to describe it, I didn't realize how integral the board is to understanding the flow of the game. At least with the enhanced version, you can see the areas of the board as I mention them. One of the motives behind tackling some video content is to be able to pick and choose which games suit which media type for what we do.

It's surely not a gateway game but it's only one rung up the ladder because the rules and board mesh together so well. It deserves high marks and any awards it can gather.

I am a new listener and I must say I really enjoy your podcast. You guys sound great and have just the right mix of personal banter and info...a fine listen.
I have been into the Euro gaming since 2001 and have a 600ish collection that is in need of a good data base. Looking forward to that post.

Pillars of the Earth is on of my favorites, too. I ran out and read the book when the game was announced a while back. I understand it is one of the most popular novels in Europe.

Hive is another classic. I repurchased the 3rd edition because the bits were so nice....and keeping an eye out for that elusive mosquito tile! Keep up the great work. Looking forward to your next one.


Welcome aboard, Greg! And thanks for the kudos.

You're getting into our territory with your collection of 600. Cool! How long is your unplayed list? Be honest! :) Dave has had a few things come up at work which are real time-sucks for the next week or so, but after that I'm sure he'll finish putting the final coat of polish on the database. I'll certainly post a note in the fourms when it is available.

If all goes well, we may have our hands on several Mosquitos very soon. John Yianni, the deisgner of Hive, sent me an email and wants to send us some tiles are prizes. How cool is that? You'll have to listen close to Name That Game contests in the coming months. :)

Were there pictures and all included in this episode's enhanced podcast? I've got audio and chapter breaks just fine, but there are no images. Is it just me or did Stephen get lazy this week? ;)

Oh, and by the way, hurry up with a link to Dave's database! Right now I'm using Excel to keep up with my gaming group's games played, game ratings, wins and loses, and all kinds of other stuff. I'd love to see if I could use yours as a starting point both for that and for my own personal collection!

Odd, I tell you, very odd! I have downloaded the enhanced version twice now and both versions have the pictures. I have had a couple other reports from listeners this week that back catalog episodes are downloading but with no sound. Huh? So far I have yet to replicate either of these problems, so the only advice I can give at this point is to try downloading the episode again. Perhaps the server was bottlenecked and something crazy happeed. Please let me know if anyone else is having similar problems! Within the next month, I will probably be moving the Spiel media files to a different service and I hope these quasi-random problems go away.

You'll probably have to add some tables or fields for a detailed play log but Dave's database would definitely give you a hug head start on keeping track of your collection.

I got it through iTunes, so something wonky probably just happened as I downloaded it. I've already listened to it once, but now I need to try again to get all the image-y goodness!

Looks like Fantasy Flight Games is going to take over the mantle from Games Workshop:

"FFG will take over the production of Talisman, and plan to produce a new printing and expansions for the 4th edition of this ever-popular classic board game."


There's also news about other Games Workshop properties that FFG is going to oversee. Now if they'd only do a fifth edition of Talisman to bring some real innovation...

Huzzah! That's great news. I just read the same thing on boardgamenews.com . Interesting that Fantasy Flight would want to do it since their own Runebound series treads on virtually the same ground. Maybe the two games will merge over time... Interesting possibility....

You mentioned that it was odd for a game to be based on a novel. Well, the book was a huge hit in Germany (6 years on the best seller list!) before the English-speaking world. So it would be a reasonable topic for a German company to pursue.

The non-standard d6 in the game (2,3,3,4,4,5) is called an "averaging die" in wargaming circles. I first got some for a Napoleonic miniatures set in the 70s. It has the same average as a d6, but a smaller standard deviation.

You know, I don't know if it's because we've been playing the board game recently and it's been on my mind, but I have noticed the Pillars of the Earth novel in a lot of places in big displays recently - bookstores (duh) but also places like Target. Perhaps they're just dumping the excess hardcover inventory on discount stores, I dunno. By all accounts, I've heard it's a great read. I have an unread "List" of books to which I'll have to add it.

Thanks for naming the averaging die, too.

You've probably seen the novel so much because it has been christened by Oprah to be one of her "book club" picks. I actually heard of the game first, then happened to see part of her episode on the novel and I must say, I want to pick it up.

My wife was the one who had the show on, btw...

The other reason that you may see the book around at the moment is that a sequel has just been published ("World's End" or something).

It's an ok novel - it's not going to win any great literary awards but it is a fast paced and absorbing story, if a little obvious at times and with some dubious medieval history.

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games