Episode 71: High-Risers

71: High-Risers

Release Date: Feb. 2, 2009

Running Time: 108 min.

Listen Now:

Download: Enhanced Version - MP3 Version

Subscribe via iTunes: Enhanced - MP3

See sidebar for other subscription options


The alphabet of giants. We shake the buildings from our sleeves by playing Metropolys and Manhattan, two simple, elegant games about skyscrapers.

News & Notes: Gryphon Games Bookshelf Series, dICEHOUSES, Kingsburg Expansion
The List: Metropolys, Manhattan
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Shark, Big City

Turckloads of Goober:  Sky Runner
Mail Bag: Coleson syndrome, dice collection pics

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Game News & Notes

Gryphon Games Bookshelf Series  Link

The Gryphon Games Bookshelf Series is a numbered collection of book-size games that will appeal to a wide array of players of all ages. The games in this series are of medium-weight strategy, featuring short, clear rules playable in under an hour. The series includes some previously out of print classic and a few new titles as well.


The DICEHOUSES Shanty reminds folks that there is no more efficient source of warmth than sitting across the table from one's family, some good friends or strangers and playing some good ol' table top games. Each of the 5 DICEHOUSES is stocked with The Book of Hoyle, playing cards, dice and games for all to play.

Sounds like they've been listening to the show? Or we're just drinking the same kool-aid...

They even have the world's largest cribbage board laid out as a hiking course over the ice! Sign up to play here.

Kingsburg Expansion BGG

The expansion is composed by five "modules". One or more modules can be added to the game in order to customize it to your liking (or to have a slightly different challenge each time).

Immortal Eyes Closes Down Link

Winning Moves Inc. is closing down its hobby game imprint, Immortal Eyes. Trans America, Vineta will remain available through the main company.

Jungle Speed on the Wii   Link

Knuckle-busting card game from Asmodee Editions makes the leap to the Wii.

The List

Metropolys Official Site | BGG

Claim colored neighborhoods and arrange your buildings in patterns to score points. The catch is, you have touse your buildings to bid on each construction site!

Manhattan Official Site | BGG

Play a grid card and place a skycraper in one of six cities on the board. Stack the towers higher and spread your buildings across the map in order to win the game. 1994 Spiel des Jahre winner.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Shark  BGG

Arrange buildings to cash in big time in this dog-eat-dog stock investing game.

Big City Official Site | BGG

Construct a model city using large plastic buildings. Size and type of building determines your score. Here's the official word from Torben Sherwood on the upcoming Valley Games reprint of Big City:

"The official release date is not exactly known at this time. We are having all of the buildings redrawn to give the game a new look, then those buildings will need to be moulded and made from our new plastics folks. Once that is complete then we will need to go through final looks of the artwork with the new pieces and we should be ready to print.

We are looking at Origins as a possible unveiling but it could be a bit later than that, it will just depend on how smoothly things go.

Our new direction is to try and offer up some pictures of the new buildings on our website as they develop so you can tell folks that will be the best place for updates on those."

Truckloads of Goober

Sky Runner  BGG

Race to the top of a massive cardboard skyscraper!

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: five games Bill & Ted could play with the historical figures they kidnap in their time machine.

Medieval Babes - Poker BGG

Billy the Kid- Cash & Guns Official Site | BGG

Genghis Khan - Conquest of Pangea Official Site | BGG

Socrates - Good Question Official Site | BGG

Napoleon - King Me!  BGG

Sigmund Freud - Diplomacy  Official Site | BGG

Beethoven - Gipf Official Site | BGG

Joan of Arc - Havoc Official Site | BGG

Abraham Lincoln - Point of Law  BGG

Mail Bag

Thanks to donors:

Mark “The Nemesis” Wilder
Larry “The Apu” Kruger
Larry “The Mimix”Mendel
Philip “The Traitor” Hoffman
Patrik “Crazy Monkey” Stromer
Jerry “The Medic” Stovall
Jefferson “Catastrophe Tile” Ridpath

Dave has offered up some additional pictures of his dice and card collection.

Spiel-lingo includes a new term: Coleson syndrome. A new form of OCD?

New section on the web site will include segment descriptions and history of games covered.

Find Stephen on Facebook or Twitter.


Architecture is the alphabet of giants; it is the largest set of symbols ever made to meet the eyes of men. A tower stands up like a sort of simplified statue, of much more than heroic size.

- Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 - 1936

Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

The back ground image for the episode album art is a still from Fritz Lang's silent film masterpiece, Metropolis.


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

Each city grid in Manhattan is a 3x3 grid, NOT a 9x9 grid.



Dude, that Name That Game turned out awesome. I knew that submitting it in screenplay form was a good idea. :)

Thanks. I had fun trying to find the right clips to set the scene.

Plus, we had a good script to work with..

I admit I enjoyed the whole thing.  But I have no idea where to start in solving.  There are perhaps too many clues for my scattered brain to pay attentio to.  But it sounds fun, and will keep me busy for a while so thank you.

Oh, and instead of "points" or "dice" earned for posting here, you should call 'em "pips". It just sounds better.

Agreed. Pips sounds perfect. In fact, I have already made the change!

Now we sit back and watch Dave start posting like a mad man so he can have the most Pips...

On the left hand navigation column, under our user name, there is still "my points" and "users by points".  Don't forget those!


Yay! I had a good idea! It's all part of my evil evil plans.

You are going to take over the world using your Spiel.net pips?

1. Acquire a bunch of Spiel.net pips (here's two more now!).

2. ?????

3. Install myself as Emperor of the World.

You do have to change the sidebar.  But instead of "users by points"  I think you should have it read "Peeps by Pips" 

edit: when I posted this the yellow bar said "User xofour earned 2 pips! Total now is 154 points"  so that's another one.  Sorry

Didn't Stephen decide that followers of The Spiel would be 'meeps'?

That kind of changes everything.  Because "Meeps by Pips"  doesn't have the same alliterative flair.  Oh well.

I'm trying to track down the CSS file with the "points" references. As soon as I can, we will be an all pip institution.

What's the exchange rate for pips to political power? Guess we'll have to figure that out...

I don't know, but we might need to scrounge up enough points to end joeyhemlock's filibuster. He is raising political capital at an alarming rate.

Now hold on there J Moody.  Before I donate my valuable Pips to your particular party, I need to know just what you stand for.  I mean Joey Hemlock has made his position clear, a maniacle ploy for world domination and ultimate power.  But just what do you stand for.  Pips don't grow on trees.  (but Pippins do)  While I may not agree with all of Joey Hemlocks platform points (pips?) I can at least see him as an honest piplitician.

I don't have a platform because I'm not a politician! I'm a NEMESIS! I just want to systematically break down Stephen and David's spirit by continuing to beat them at games (occasionally throwing a game, just to give them hope), until eventually that leads to global conquest. It's not that different than The Green Goblin, except he wanted to kill Spiderman, not just beat him at Zooloretto.

I sense a cage match coming on...

The Nemesis vs The Last Emperor of Planet Earth.

We haven't heard from the Emperor in a while, but I am guessing this bold stance by the Nemesis might bring him out of seclusion...

If not, get your dice and cards ready, Mr. N! I have proven you can be beaten....

Street Paintball at 50 paces...

It's amazing that they have not made a Spiderman movie where the bad guy pulls out a copy of Ubongo and says "so you think you're smart, Spidey. Let's see how quickly you can solve these puzzles"

mind you, it would probably work better with the Puzzler in Batman

I had forgotten all about The Puzzler!

Who knew Carlos Hernandez's (see episode 70) secret identity was a Nemesis for my favorite comic book hero? :)

The Green Goblin might not sit still long enough for Ubongo. Perhaps a game of Carrousel...

I was going to vote to call them "Action Points" but it seems I am too late.

I can live with pips although to me it brings to mind the stuff you spit out, when eating fruit, as it's indigestible.


toodle pip

Either that or Gladys knight.   I know it's wrong.  I kow it's dice pips.  I know it's a cunning maneuver by the nemesis to take over the world one board game at a time.  But for some reason my mind has to twist the pip from it's beautiful beginning as a cunnigly evil scheme into some kind of horrendous pun.

We live with a Pip, our cat. So naming the points after her, also seems like a perfect fit.

Action points are awfully good, though...

....although I currently have 234 Action Points. That could be a very long turn especially if I fall into Analysis Paralysis.


Is the cat called Pip because of the dice connection ?

My cat is called Edfu. I'll give 10 of my PIPS (/APs) to the first poster who can give me the game connection there ! (Can I transfer PIPs? Have you thought this through ?)

Pip is definitely a tip of the hat to dice as well as Charles Dickens and Farscape (Pip is grey and white like Chiana, a character whose nickname is Pip).

Is the Edfu in question the Egyptian city? The temple at Edfu looks suspiciously like the Monuments in Tigris & Euphrates. Monuments, Steerpike is currently using to kick my butt in an online game....

I'll have to see if Pips are transferrable. I know I can allocate Pips as sysadmin, so you cna definitely use me as the exchange bank temporarily. Of course, the Pips need to actually DO something before this matters!

hurrah for Wikipedia !

Yes, Edfu is named after the town in Egypt that houses the mighty temple to Hourus. Actually the cat is named after this location as my wife and I had just returned from a trip down the Nile when wegot him.

Furthermore EDFU is one of the locations in the other Knizia classic Amun Re, so the name just stuck. [the Tigris and Euphrates Nile variant was not out at the time]

Totally forgot about Amun Re.

I was thinking I missed the boat because I didn't mention Ra!

Man, I thought for sure that the game to play against Napoleon would be Marin Wallace's forthcoming "Waterloo", since you would be gauranteed a win.

Welcome back and thanks for this show.

Skyscrapers is actually a Swedish game, which Ravensburger took up. Dan Glimne (Gleem-neh) is a quite famous game designer in Sweden. He made Batavia (The remake of Moderne Zeiten) together with the designer of Ubongo, Grzegorz Rejchtman. Svea Rike and Ostindiska Kompaniet are older Swedish games, that he deisgned.

He is also a poker expert and has written several books. He is also a good friend of German designer Dirk Henn (who also speaks a little Swedish).

Anyway, I beat Dan in the Swedish Monopoly Championship a while ago. And he was also very happy with an essay on board games, which I wrote back in 2003. So we have occasionally met and he is always willing to promote gaming. While I regard Skyscrapers very similar to Adel Verpflichtet (Hoity Toity), I am happy that you mentioned this game.

Great info about Skyscrapers. Very interesting!

I was familiar with Batavia and its connection to Mr. Rejchtman, but had no idea about Dan Glimne. He has some other great games to his credit. We enjoy Dungeonquest a lot. Cool that you have had a chance to meet him and play games. 

Another fine episode!

I think you might have been en error about the order of publication on the different versions of SHARK. Granted, it's been a few years, but the original version of Shark was from Flying Turtle, the board looked like this:

Though if there is a new Flying Turtle version I need a copy. (I think Flying Turtle is owned by the designer, but I could be wrong here.)

When I was at ICE we playtested the standard six zone board configuration and a new five zone board because we were going to produce a version of it. After ICE went under Ravensburger produced the game with the new board configuration.

The Ravensburger version also had hotel bits instead of tokens. They were better looking, but didn't work as well. I think that's the one Rio Grand distributed in the US.

Also, I liked the game so much I made my own wooden version of it in somewhere around 1997 - which I think pre dates the Ravensburger edition. Though I could be wrong.

The 5 zone map is much better because it encourages more player interaction. I even created an 8 zone map.


I defer to your expertise, Donald. Thanks for the correction.

I'll check with Dave and see where he got his info! If there is a new Flying Turtle edition, I'll let you know.

PS: your wooden board looks awesome!

In most cases I don't know what I'm talking about, but this time I think I do. ~grin~

Thanks for the kind words about the wooden board. It is impressive in size, but if you know your woodworking you'd be totally confused by some of the design choices that made themselves when I was creating it.

In all I think the best thing about Shark is the turning point when people have stock portfolios built up and they have to start making hard decisions what to sell, and which stock of several imperiled stocks are the safest buy.

Keep up the great work.


Yep, you are 100% correct. Dave still isn't quite sure how he got the impression Flying Turtle had a new edition out. Perhaps another sign of early onset Coleson Syndrome...

Your board project looks good to me. That grid must have been a challenge to route out and keep all the lines nice and straight. I'm certainly no pro, but I helped put myself through college working for a friend's father as a shop urchin and eventually apprentice caprenter. We built furniture using 19th century designs. To this day, I unconsciously check the undersides of tables and under the arms of chairs to see if they are sanded properly. The boss of the shop had a supernatural knack for finding the ONE chair/table with a tiny rough spot. "Not up to par," he'd say. And I'd have to sand the whole group over. Even if that meant 100 chairs.



Great stuff as always; I'm pleased to learn how to properly pronounce Metropolys (vaguely like Inspector Clouseau) , insatiably curious about the skyscraper game and looking forward to the return of Big City.

As to the lingo, first off, 'Pike started it. Even so, I should never have been so tasteless as to mock a medical condition as serious as Coleson's Syndrome, especially after it was elevated to a capital S this week following the failure of those drug treatments that seemed so promising earlier in the year. Test patients were given three medicines to be taken according to a strict schedule. They dutifully set out and arranged the tablets by dosage and time, but then unfortunately kept going, sorting the pills by color, weight and condition and eventually refusing to actually swallow any of them on the grounds that it would "break up the set". You've probably handled some of these very pills, being meticulously used as markers in various games, without realizing it. This sort of thing goes on more often than you might think; many ultra-rare Magic cards were secretly impregnated with a powerful hallucinogen and those little pastel camels in Through The Desert are actually little tranquilizers. Go easy on the blue ones, though. Trust me on this.


Yes, avoid the blue ones at all costs.

If we follow Neo's lead, it's all about the red ones, right?

Does that mean we'll wake up in a world where everything is cube-shaped and determined by action points? If only we could find the victory point track, we'd know who's winning... Perhaps Dr. Knizia is The Architect? Who's The Oracle, then?


I already live in that world.

I really enjoyed this episode.  Fun fact.  I love skyscrapers (I will spend hours online just looking for pictures of skyscrapers from different angles), but I'm terrified of heights.  So I will never go near a window if I'm above the 2nd floor of a building.  Yet I fell in love with New York City in just the 6 hours I have been there in my life.  SO I was happy to hear about a bunch of good games about tall buildings!

Having said this, there's one thing that bugs me about Manhattan, the game.  Don't get me wrong, I love the game to death, but the Rio Grande reprint (and apparantly the original) bothers me by using different city names.  The Mayfair version I played a couple years ago, each region was named after a different area of Manhattan Island.  So you had Midtown, Wall Street, Upper West side etc. etc. and for some reason, that just felt more "right" than playing in Sydney and Frankfurt and such...  it may be a small point, and it doesn't mean anything to the game at all, just a thematic decision I never have agreed with.

Now, to start working on that Name that game puzzle...

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana, a small town with amazing, world renowned architecture. I thought every town had crazy public structures that were both beautiful and functional. As a result, I think this made me more keenly aware of how buildings have an impact on a community and individuals within that community.

All this is my way of saying, I know what you mean about being fascinated by big buildings!

Good call on prefering the original game board for Manhattan. Sorry I neglected to mention it in the show. Strange that they felt the need to change it, but I suppose it gives the game a more global appeal? That's probably a stretch.

I love that town.  I visited there a couple years ago, just to try and find all the interesting buildings.  I had a map of sorts (can't remember where I got it) and it was like an architectural scavenger hunt. 

I really should go back and take some pictures.  Such a neat place.

If you do go back, let me know and I'll make sure you hit all the good places!

Hopefully Zaharakos will be opening up again soon. It's a soda fountain that was run by the same Greek family for over 100 years. The historical society has taken over the building and is renovating it. The interior is virtually the same as it was in th 1900s. My grandfather, my Dad, and I both have fond memories of sitting at the kid's table (little wrought iron kid-sized tables) and having Cheese-br-grs (a Zaharkos original; more like a combo of a sweet/tangy sloppy joe and a grilled cheese) and Green River sodas. Best of all they had a fully functional calliope built into the back of the dining room. At one point a few years ago when the family still ran the place, they sold the calliope, but the historical society tracked it down and got it back.

Of all the Columbus highlights, it would be at the top of the list if it's open.