Episode 70: Hernandez

70: Hernandez

Release Date: Jan. 5, 2009

Running Time: 118 min.

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Puzzle primer. We explore a new trend: the convergence between puzzles and games. We review six different titles including On the Dot, three forms of Ubongo, Code Omega and Santy Anno.

News & Notes: Baked Dice, Bits & Pieces Mag, Zooloretto Gorilla, Alhambra Gold
The List: On the Dot, Ubongo, Ubongo Extreme, Ubongo Das Duell, Code Omega, Santy Anno
Back Shelf Spotlight: Code 777, Take It Easy
Truckloads of Goober: Jungle Smart
Mail Bag: Haunting House suggestion, Japanese lesson, NFL Pool results

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Game News & Notes

New Edition of Cosmic Encounter  Official Site | BGG

The classic returns. It features 50 alien races, flare cards to boost their powers, 100 plastic ships, a host of premium components, and all-new tech cards that let players research and build extraordinary technological marvels!

Gingerbread Dice  Link

Homemade 20-sided dice. Tasty!

Zooloretto: The Gorilla   Official Site | BGG

New expansion tile to the 2007 Spiel des Jahres winner. The first player to fill his 6-space enclosure, takes the gorilla enclosure from the middle of the table. The owner of the gorilla enclosure may once during the game place a drawn tile (also a coin tile) directly into his zoo instead of on a delivery truck.

Bits & Pieces Magazine Official Site

A new print publication set to debut in February 2009. Each issue will include 10 reviews: 2 classic games, 2 fillers, and 6 new games or hidden gems.

Gridstones on Amazon   Link

Canadian designed abstract strategy game (reviewed in episode 64) is now available on Amazon and the Shopping Channel.

Alhambra Gold Edition    Official Site

The golden anniversary edition version of the 2003 Spiel des Jahres offers new game material. This includes wooden fountains and an embroidered cloth bag, adding more atmosphere to the game!

The List

On the Dot Official Site | BGG

Pattern matching game with four transparent polka dotted cards. Great for players of all ages.

Ubongo Official Site | BGG

Use tetris-style pieces to fill a puzzle grid before your opponents.

Ubongo Extreme  BGG

Like Ubongo? This sequel ratchets up the difficulty by using hexagonal pieces. There's also a free expansion designed by Ted Alspach: Ubongo Craxy Expansion.

Ubongo Das Duell  BGG

Two player Ubongo. Both players try to solve the same puzzle.

Code Omega Official Site | BGG

Align rectangular strips to form a column of symbols

Santy Anno Official Site | BGG

After a long night partying, 7 pirates and a seagull are looking for their ship:the notorious Santy Anno! Crazy combo of logic puzzle and musical chairs.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Code 777  BGG

Secret love child of Sleuth and Indian Poker. Answer questions and try to deduce your three secret numbers.

Take It Easy Official Site | BGG

Arrange your hex tiles to create color lines and patterns to score.

Truckloads of Goober

Jungle Smart  BGG

Rearrange three chunky wooden animals by forming nonsense phrases

The Game Sommelier

Thanks to Carlos Hernandez, namesake of this episode, for agreeing to take the Sommelier Challenge!

The challenge: find five more puzzle style games you might not know about

Ricochet Robot Official Site | BGG

Navigate your robot to a target in the least number of moves.

Turbo Taxi Official Site | BGG

Rearrange tiles to get the yellow and black taxis to their destinations

Carrousel Official Site | BGG

To play Carrousel, you don't have to be a knight, jockey or a cossack. A little speed and observation will do. Find the right color combinations and move your horses quickly before your opponents do it for you!

Timbuktu Official Site | BGG

At the end of each stage, thieves will steal goods from the caravans when they stop at an oasis. Each player must engage in a Sudoku-like analysis of the clues he is given to determine which pitches in the new oasis will be struck by thieves and which will be safe places for him to rest his camels. As the round progresses, you gain more information about where the thieves will be. The object of the game is to be the trader left with the most value in goods when you reach Timbuktu.

Bazaar  BGG

Roll a colored die to randomly pick a colored chip or you make an exchange based on a series of equations. The goal is to end up with the right combination of chips to get one of the target cards.

Bongo  BGG

Pattern matching dice game. Find the right combination and declare the correct animal before your opponents.

Rapid Croco Official Site | BGG

Combination of speed and deduction. Determine the criminal and declare the guilty party through a series of clue cards.

Imagination Official Site | BGG

After all players have simultaneously reserved an "mirror axis" on the board, a mirror will be used to determine which parts of the board are multiplied and which are left hidden. The player with the most points after 10 puzzles wins the game.

Mail Bag


Thanks to donors Quinn "Swing State" Munnerlyn III, Jeffrey "Mayor of Catan" Myers, Jonathan "Commanded & Colored" Moody, and Bob "Sultan of Souks" Wilson

Steve Donohue recommends adding the expansion to Haunting House.

Denny Yori catches my mangled Japanese spelling of itadakimasu in the last show description.

Congratulations to Derek Jung, winner of the 1st annual Spiel NFL Pool! He wins a Spiel T-Shirt.



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

Ubongo Extreme's puzzle pieces are color coded and you use a particular set of colored pieces when solving the puzzle in a given round. You don't roll a die as in Ubongo.



noooo - you can't put up another episode yet - I haven't finished the other one.

darn Christmas just gets in the way of my listening habits

We'll be there when you're ready for the next one.

I'm putting another coat of primer on the padded cell today and catching up on some of my podcast routine, too.

IF I can ever get my hands to stop itching, that is. Who gets poison ivy in the dead of winter? Me, apparently. I've developed a really nasty allergy to it. When I get it, I get it with a vengeance. The only thing I can think of is I visited a friend and his dogs are outside/inside dogs and I must have gotten the plant oil on my gloves since my hands are covered with it. yuck. Hello, Zanfel!

yes, but if you leave it too long then you miss the competitions :-(

hope the ivy-like virus clears soon :-)

Happy New Year to the Spiel crew and listeners. Great to see that  also in 2009 we keep on getting fun episodes for the long cold commutes.

Some extra tidbits of info on this show:

- "How cool would it be to have an eatable game?" Well, in Belgium (and probably in other countries too) we have chocolate versions of classic games. So you can get a scrabble, monopoly or trivial pursuit with real Belgian chocolates. The only games where the classic dull joke 'I've bought a second copy of the game in case I want to play it again' really works. Interested in a copy? Let me know

- In the new edition of Jungle smart, one of the orders has changed ffrom 'Ni' to 'Ekee ekee ekee ptang zu pong'.

- One of the puzzle games I was missing in the show was 'Set' (www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1198) The game consists of a deck of cards with drawings with four properties (shape, color, fill and number). Nine or more cards are placed on the table and the players need to find sets. A set is a combination of three cards where all four properties are either different or the same. Silent, brain-busting puzzling!

I may have to seek out this new version of Jungle Smart. I hear there are shrubberies included in the box as well.

I don't think I would mind losing a game (or two) of chocolate Scrabble. "Hey, where did all my Es go?"

Set. Absolutely! Great puzzle game we neglected to mention. Thanks for catching that oversight. Set is the game I cannot play with kids. They always kick my butt!

Wow, it's been busy here. Steerpike's working on catching up with the podcast but I'm trying to read through all the forum postings I've missed!

I've intended whenever I've heard you talk over the last few episodes about simultaneous puzzle solving to mention one of my odder thrift scores, a  Parker Brothers production from the early 1960's called "Situation 4" which is, believe it or not, a speed/ jigsaw/ war game. Both sides receive at the beginning of the game an identical jigsaw puzzle in contrasting colors, which will eventually cover the board. The players then race to assemble their sides of the puzzle and whenever a side manages to complete a section of the puzzle depicting a launch space, it can bring the corresponding plastic forces into play on the board. It gets kind of deranged and I know of nothing else quite like it.

The knockout champ for this sort of thing around my circle, though, has surprisingly turned out to be "Set" so one more vote for that.


Speaking of jigsaw puzzles, by the way, have either of you gentlemen managed to get a look at FFG's controversial "Android" yet?

Holy cow, Situation 4 looks nifty! So nifty, in fact, that I just bought a copy of the sequel Situation 7 on ebay.

I think my wallet is glad you haven't posted in a while. You could get me in serious trouble!

I was hoping I might get Android as an xmas gift, so I haven't picked up a copy yet. Eager to try it, though.

I was inspired to seek out Situation 4 on eBay... snagged it and received it today, and just played against my two kids. Really fun! (Even though they beat me, 1300 to 1150.) And harder than I thought, since you still have a pile of pieces left over when  you're looking for the last few.

Thanks for the tip, Gregory IS!

My copy of Situation 7 arrived yesterday, but I haven't had time to play yet. It looks really cool! One could describe my current mood as grissful. Thanks again. :)

I was worried about the game being complete, but everything is there and it even has the original plastic bags the plastic pieces came in.

You guys have just determined my Thanksgiving menu.  Thank you. Thanksgiving is a 40+ person event.  These puzzle games sound perfect for that.  They cover such a huge age range.  The appeal of working puzzles is so much easier to get across than trying to sell something like Rum & Pirates.  (although with all those people, generally I can get a few people to try anything.)  The best part is with like the Ubongo series, almost everyone can be playing mostly the same game.  Plus, jungle smart just looks & sounds fun.

My favorite though has to be Santy Anno.  The review you gave made it interesting almost compelling.  But what convinced me I HAD to own this game was when Dave said  "Your gonna move counter clockwise or clockwise 1-4 space from your target ship one you do get to it."  I had to rewind and listen to that sentence twice just to make sure I understood it.  (and more times to make sure I didn't misquote Dave.)  Plus, it would be perfect for my annual men's camp out.  Especially,  because I think it can be easily turned into a drinking game.  You guys mentioned rum.  I figure if you don't make it to the ship (or you don't make it in time to score) then you pend the night at the tavern & you have to drink.  At least, I am pretty sure I can sell it to my men's camp out friends that way.  Unfortunately it sounds like it's going to be nigh on impossible to find.  But at least I have 3/4 of a year to hunt it down.

What do you do at a drunken campout?

Play Santy Anno, definitely! Explaining the game to your non-gamer friends will be the real challenge. The rules really aren't that complicated, but trying to condense them in a way that makes the accessible has been a little tough when I have tried. One small hurdle for a ton of fun. That's not too much to ask, right?

We had a game gathering a month or so ago and I set up puzzle game stations on several tables and people floated from game to game throughout the evening. The great thing is they are all short(ish) and not so brain taxing that you can't carry on a conversation and have a drink and a good time even while trying to solve those devilish puzzles.

Carlos is the nicest, most generous guy that I've ever played games with.  Indeed, almost every game mentioned in this episode that I've played, it's been because of Carlos. Vote YES on Carlos.

I second that motion. And the motion carries. Landslide victory for Carlos!

Many thanks again to "The Puzzler" for introducing us to these games. I'm always eager to know what's on Carlos' radar when it comes to these games. 9 times out of 10, if Carlos is interested in it, we are too!

You're probably tired of hearing this from me (and others) but, yes, you guessed it, another Great Episode.

I continue to marvel at the breadth of your podcast. I love puzzles and I love games but somewhere in my tiny mind I have never made the connection that a puzzle game might be fun ! I think it's because puzzles are such a solo cerebral pursuit and therefore do not, on the face of it, lend themselves well to the notion of player interaction.

Clearly I was wrong on that one. So, thanks again for broadening my perspective and entertaining me to boot.

What I see here is a HUGE potential for bringing nongamer into the hobby (or at least finding others to play with !) I know loads of puzzle nuts who don't play games - one of which is my wife. This could be the secret key.

Man, I am so pumped up I'm struggling to decide which one to order (although Ubongo is looking the favourite for now).

[caveat - of course when I think about it, I have played some simultaneous puzzle games in the past.. RoboRally being one of my favourites although perhaps that is stretching the definition a little. and, of course, Take It  Easy (top choice for Backshelf ). Still, the full connection was not there]

Puzzle games are often a great way to introduce people to non-traditional board games, absolutely! I think almost all of the ones we covered in the show are accessible to a very wide audience. Santy Anno is probably the most wacky and therefore might be the toughest sell to non-gamers, but any of the Ubongos or On the Dot would be a quick and fun way to show someone a game that shatters many of the typical preconceptions about board games.

Since the challenge in  a puzzle game is inherently more about solving the puzzle than beating your opponent, it's easy to see why they lend themselves to solitaire play.

Should we use the word Hernandez as a noun to describe a particularly difficult or entertaining puzzle ?

"That was a real hernandez!"

Seems to me that we are building a Spielingo. Along with a Coppertwaddle moment, we have our own community language !


what would be a Steerpike ? [maybe, an "obscure reference"]

or a GregoryIS ? [probably "a long but well articulated diatribe" :-) ]

or a Coleson [clearly an "obsession" or an "OCD moment"]

You're onto something, you two.

It's fun to think that goober has entered many a gamer's lexcion as a result of the show and to a lesser extent, the Game Sommelier has also take root. Why stop there? I'll keep

The risk, of course, is that soon it will sound as though we are speaking in tongues and you'll need a special glossary to listen to the show. Heh.

Coleson's Syndrome could be a specialized form of UG, Uber Gooberosis.


Galaxy Trucker contains a simultaneous puzzle phase and is pure fun.

Alex Randolph made a game, called Orbit, which is "not recommended that you play for more than 15 minutes". That is a real brain burner, with the same set up as Ricochet Robots, that is you can be as many players as you want.

Einfach Genial Knobelspass from Kosmos and Reiner Knizia is a deductive puzzle in the same fashion as soduko, but where players can try to solve different difficulty levels at the same time. So dads can beat their kids and still be somewhat proud of it!

/Patrik Stromer



Wow, Orbit and Einfach Genial Knobelspass look cool.

I know Dave will be drooling over them, too. My brain is already melting a little just from reading about them. And that's a good thing?!