Episode 63: T For Two

63: T For Two

Release Date: Sept. 22, 2008

Running Time: 112 min.

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Volcanos and snake-haired gods. We build towers and temples on a fiery island in Taluva and guide ancient Etruscan oracles to a sacred altar in Tuchulcha, a wacky Parcheesi variant.

News & Notes:  Logan Stones, Northstar/Days of Wonder, daVinci/Alliance
The List: Taluva, Tuchulcha
Name That Game: Win Crocodile Pool Party
Backshelf Spotlight:
Quandary, Bosworth 
Truckloads of Goober: Meepile
Game Sommelier: 30 games for children's hospital play rooms.
Mail Bag:
NFL Pool update, Mr Jack and Airships corrections.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Game News & Notes

NorthStar/Days of Wonder Bring Wits& Wagers to Europe Link

North Star Games announced today that it has signed a worldwide licensing deal with Days of Wonder for North Star Games’ hit trivia/party game, Wits & Wagers.  Days of Wonder will release the game as Gambit 7 in France and Germany this year and to British Commonwealth countries in 2009.

Nominations Open for TAGIE Awards Link

The TAGIE Awards celebrate the creativity, originality and accomplishments of the inventor and is not solely based upon sales or excellent packaging and marketing for a specific product.  The TAGIE award promises to be a prestigious award to receive, as the recipients are voted in by a "jury of their peers" - fellow inventors and industry professionals. You can help recognize the importance of the "soul of our industry" and nominate a deserving inventor today! 

daVinci Games inks deal with Alliance Distribution Link

Having dropped Mayfair Games, daVinci Games have a new agreement in place with Alliance Game Disributors. Alliance will be the exclusive distributor of favorite titles like Bang!, Barbarossa, Leonardo daVinci, and Tuchulcha (reviewed on this episode).

Logan Stones Official Site | BGG

Hive Designer John Yianni has a new game ready to debut at Essen this year. It is a two player board-less game that encourages memory and tactical thinking. It is played with 18 tactile pieces that are etched and painted on both sides with different symbols. The simple to learn rules are based on the visually recognisable symbols of Rock Paper Scissors.

Power Grid Expansion: Korea & China Official Site | BGG

Divided Market in Korea and planned economics in China are sure to make these boards a great challenge.

Ticket to Ride Dice Game Link

In this expansion, players still attempt to complete their Destination Tickets and claim routes and block each other on the map. But rather than draw and collect Train cards, they roll five custom Train dice each turn. Depending on the outcome they can reroll some or all, then use the dice to claim routes on the board; grab Route Tokens for future use; or draw more Destination Tickets. includes: 5 custom Train dice, 3 Tunnel dice, 1 Ticket to Ride dice cup, Route tokens and Rules booklet and comes in a small cube shaped box.

The List

Taluva  BGG | Official Site

On Taluva, that South Seas island shrouded in secrecy, raw elemental powers prevail. Powerful volcanoes erupt, pouring their lava into the sea, forming a terrace-like jungle landscape. Four groups try to establish themselves on this island. They search the jungle, beaches, and lakes, looking for the best places to build their huts, towers, and temples. They put their fate in the hands of their gods. Each player makes decisions on how the island grows and where his group builds their huts, towers, and temples.At the end of the game, the temples are the most important for scoring.

Tuchulcha  BGG | Official Site 

Nothing says Parcheesi like ancient Etruscan oracles (haruspices) walking a sacred path to found the city of Rome! A cool variant on the classic dice game steeped in historical flavor with two extra roles players can assume which alter victory conditions.

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

Loco (aka Quandary) BGG

There are five different colored chips, with six cards, zero through five, in each of the colors. The cards are dealt out, and then players take turns playing a card and taking any available chip. When one color has all six cards played on it, then the game is over, and players use the last card played in each category to value their chips. The highest total value wins.

Bosworth BGG 

Quick, fast, wild and wooly chess variant for up to four players. You start with four pawns in play and bring the rest of your pieces into play on a small board sure to bring players into conflict from the get-go.

Truckloads of Goober

Meepile  BGG 

A giant meeple holds his hand high for you to stack his smaller wooden meeple cousins. A silly fun dexterity game!


Game Sommelier

The 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!

Stephen's List

Dave's Vote

Games for Ages 4 and Up  
Hare & Tortoise

Viva Topo

Gulo Gulo
Animal on Animal

Go Away Monster

Pitch Car  
Cookin' Cookies  
 Games for Ages 8 and Up  
 10 Days in... Series  
 Hey! That's My Fish  
 Duck Duck Go
 6 Nimmt  
 A to Z Junior  
 Games for Ages 12 & Up  
 Formula D  
 Ticket to Ride  
 Winner's Circle  
 El Grande  

Next Challenge: 25 games to assemble bundles to donate to senior centers. 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 game experience and the games must also be in print. Feel free to email Stephen with your suggestions!

Mail Bag

Thanks to donors Kenny "Little Spieler" Jung, Scott "The Shogun" Loeffler, and Jason "I'm the Boss" Ober

Congrats to Dave for leading the NFL PIck 'Em Pool after week #2.

Many many listeners wrote in with corrections to the flip-rule in Mr. Jack from last episode. While I was taught to play with the flip rule as stated in the show, clearly this is not correct as written in the rules. Tokens once flipped to the innocent side do not flip back ever. Lucky for us our multi-flip version does not break the game at all. We actually enjoyed the extra tension the memory aspect added to the game. Sounds like a Spiel house rule for sure. Thanks to everyone who helps keep us accurate and honest!

Joe Cochran also wrote in with a minor correction to Airships. If you cannot select a card with the dice you have rolled, you get a bonus chip which you can use on future turns.


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



I realy enjoyed the new (or at least different & new to me) segment introductions.  It's nice to hear things mixed up & changed a bit every now and again.   Very cool.

   I also think I learned more this episode than I have in any previous spiel I have heard.  Because not only did I learn about new games, but I don't think I had ever even heard of the Itruscans before.  So that was incredibly cool to learn, and gave me something to look up on wikipedia when I should be working.  Thank you very much that was way neat.

Glad we could help direct your browser to the wikis. :)

While many level the claim that euro games have pasted on themes and are too mechanical and mathy, I think you have to look at it on a case by case basis.It was very apparent that a LOT of time and effort had gone into making Tuchulcha reflect the history and mythology of the Etruscans. Jenseits von Theben also comes to mind as a game where the designers were obviously very interested in including interesting tidbits of history about the artifacts you are trying to discover. Twilight Struggle is another prime example of a game that greatly benefited from being tied directly to research and history.

I would also add Thurn & Taxis to the list of games that go in for setting details. Every city on the board is depicted with architecture from that city and in the base set there's a separate sheet detailing what each of those buildings is (too bad they didn't add such a sheet for Power & Glory, but oh well...). I have two days between my arrival in Frankfurt and the start of Essen this year, and I'm trying to decide what to do -- don't think that hitting some of those mail route cities hasn't occured to me!!

-- Joe


Actually, I did use the G (miGht). Where I fell down was being unable to find the second d for the word "add". Still, grinning at finally having a coveted set of Spiel Dice.

Taluva is a lovely thing, yes. I still have a slight preference for its predecessor Attika, but then Attika is an all time favorite of mine so that's a minor dig indeed. Dave, who has mentioned his obsession over how boxes go together, will understand my hope for one more game to round out the trilogy. I also liked the ramble about Etruscan gods. Never feel like you have to apologize for making things more well-rounded and interesting than they have to be and don't hesitate to do more of this sort of thing.

As far as the hospital challenge, it's making me realize how out of touch I am with children's games. Maybe the first people you should ask about this sort of thing are the hospitals themselves. Some hospitals have very stringent and occasionally surprising rules about what can and cannot be allowed in certain areas and they could probably answer questions like the choking concern you mentioned. And with sincere repect to the sommelier and the recognition that some other Spielers beat me to the punch while I was typing this, Hare_and_Tortoise? David Parlett's Hare_and_Tortoise, the SdJ winner, with it's careful carrot stockpiling, detailed rules about finishing and pyramidal math? For four year olds? Even Parlett himself, in his Oxford_History_of_Board_Games , ruefully admits that he always envisioned it as an adult game and should possibly have chosen a different theme more targeted to that audience. Classic game, but run through a session and see if you agree that it should be bumped up to one of the other age levels (a full table of six players is really best with this one too).



Great googly-moogly, you did use the G! What was I on that I missed that?

Did I mention I haven't been getting much sleep lately?

Kudos and congrats either way. Sorry for calling you out incorrectly. Even my corrections need corrections. Ha.

Glad you enjoyed the extra historical context for Tuchulcha. Not every game demands a history lesson, but I thought the added background information would give everyone a different sense of the game. I am writer and recovering academic, so research is fun. When merited, I'll continue to indulge those impulses and include semi-random but interesting factoids.

Hare and Tortoise is even pushing it for 8 and up.  This game is quite mathy and unforgiving of small miscalculations (even for adults); there's no way a 4 year old could play this game in any way, shape, or form.  Have you played it or did you just pick it based on the theme? 

Great show - I've got to get myself one of those Meepiles !

And those TtR dice.

I, too, enjoyed the brief foray into the lives of the ancient Etruscans. Although I wondered if the image of them playing a board game might have been a Coppertwaddle moment. I need to get myself down to the British Museum and check out some of the artifacts.

As I recall the Etruscans were ethnically cleansed by the incoming "Romans" who turned up after the sacking of Troy. I guess that they are the Green Meanies of this piece.

This may seem a strange (nay, heretical) admission, coming as it does from a seasoned gamer, but until this show I had no idea what 'Parcheesi' actually was. I'd heard it referenced a few time (notably by "Donkey" in the film "Shrek") but had never thought to look it up. I see from the geek that it is actually what we, in the UK, know as Ludo.

The word Ludo, of course, is Latin for "I play" (Ludo/Ludas/Ludat/Ludamus/Ludatis/Ludant) so perhaps there is even more theme here than we thought. Perhaps Tuchulcha was the original Etruscan game being played in that surviving mosaic but when the future Romans turned up they stripped away the pagan references and it became Ludo. (Before being published by Milton Bradley as Parcheesi in the USA)

I think we should be told !

Actually Parcheesi sprang from Pachisi which was indeed the national game of India, although as always it was watered down as it traveled. In its native form it was a slightly more challenging partnership game if memory serves. What's strange when you start looking into ancient games is that cultures across the world who had at that point in history no possible means of communication developed remarkably similar games- there are many games that bear more than a passing resemblance to pachisi or ludo from disparate parts of the ancient world; draw whatever theories from that you will.

Ludo is incidentally the punny source of the original British title Cluedo, something which baffled me for years as I always thought it was pronounced cloo-doo.

Gregory - I never knew that (Cluedo = Clue + Ludo)! Yes, indeed, we pronounce it Clue-Doe here in England.

Hey, I wonder if there should be a segment on the show around Game Trivia. That would be kind of interesting.

The images I saw of the original painting of Tuchulcha definitely show two men seated at a table with grid lines and one seems to have a stone or a pawn in hand.  It may not be a game, but it certainly looks like one to me! On the box, this part of the painting is covered up. If I can find a pic of suitable size, I'll post it here. I did not, however notice any Milton Bradley trademarks with Roman (or Etruscan) numerals to indicate the date...

And thanks to Gregory for filling Simon in on Pachisi. I said/wrote Parcheesi since I grew up with the modernized title. I guess I should have said/written Pachisi as I am familiar with its ancient origin.


Hope you didn't take that as some sort of pedantic correction on my part- I think the spellings are pretty much interchangeable, like the many spellings of Xiang Qi. That was just the spelling used in one of the books I have.

I was more impressed by the fact that you've got people in your forums conjugating Latin. Wow!

Spielers are an odd lot, but they're wicked smart, too! RIght, Steerpike?

We could put together a crack team of experts in a wide variety of disciplines, I bet. Or at least a bunch of jacks-of-all-trades. :)

No offense taken at all on the Pachisi spelling/pronuciation!  Being a Hoosier (person from Indiana) means that I am very likely to pronounce things in a manner very odd to the rest of the world. Even if I had thought to use Pachisi, it is well nigh impossible to stop putting the R in PARcheesi! When I was studying acting in college, my diction teacher used to get a lot of laughs from having me read lines of dialogue in my normal drawl. dog was, of course, dawg. A pen was a peeun. You don't wash the dishes, You warsh the deeshus. After all, we're the state with a city named Versailles and around here that's pronounced "Ver-sayles!"

Though the classes worked (mostly) I still fall into the drawl or weird Hoosierisms without missing a beat. And Dave is certainly right up there with me! My favorite is Dave ordering a quasadillya (quesadilla). Granted he does it on purpose, but it still cracks me up.


Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar?

Me ineptum. Interdum modo elabitur.


ps How does Dave pronounce Tequilla ?????

Nescio quid dicas...  ;)

As for Tequilla, there's ONE Spanish word we NEVER mispronounce!

Yo quiero una botella Tequilla Don Eduardo, por favor.


re: <<Nescio quid dicas...>>

I said: "Oh, was I speaking Latin again ? Silly me, sometime it just sort of slips out" 

ah, Don Eduardo. A quality tequilla :-)

Hey I was about to post my earth shattering connection between Loco and Bosworth but the forum topic appears to be locked ????

Perhaps you could just post me the dice as compensation ?

Whoops! Forgot to turn comments on when I initially posted the entry. Fixed now. Thanks for catching the goof.

I looked into games to keep in public places and found it to be more challenging than I anticipated.

I think fist choice should be a dec of cards and a book with card game rules. A deck of cards is easy to replace and there will be a wealth of games to try out. I don´t know a lot of good two-player games to be played with a deck of cards which is a weakness Iguess.

Turning to two-player games I agree with the Hive pick. Hive is a game that seems to be EXACTLY what you are looking for. Other games from Gigiamic like Quarto and Pylos might fit the bill.

If you choose games where you expect components to be lost it would be interesting to know how you will handle this on an ongoing basis. Also how will people be introduced to the games?

Spiel on!