Episode 86: Parimutuel Acquaintances

86: Parimutuel Acquaintances

Release Date: Sept. 14, 2009

Running Time: 146 min.

Listen Now:

Download: Enhanced Version - MP3 Version

Subscribe via iTunes: Enhanced - MP3

See sidebar for other subscription options


A gaited community. From dice mayhem at the horse track to flower trading that would make day traders blush, we look at Long Shot and Tulipmania 1637.

News & Notes: International Gamer Awards, Space Hulk, Spiel-a-thon
The List: Long Shot, Tulipmania 1637
Table Talk: Bridge Troll
Back Shelf Spotlight: 
Les Passe Trappe

Truckloads of Goober:  Ido
Game Sommelier:  5 games for a disaster preparation/recovery course
Mail Bag: Headless Hollow Reference Sheets, responses from Kevin Cook

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

International Gamer Awards Finalists  Link

Thanks to Greg Schloesser for sharing the list of nominees!

Space Hulk  Official Site | BGG

A One of the all-time Games Workshop classics is back for a limited time. Price is steep at $100, but the box comes with enough genestealers to start your own invasion.

Spiel-a-thon 2009  Link

Full details on this year's event taking place in Dallas Tx, the weekend of November 19-22 at BGG Con.

The List

Long Shot Official Site | BGG

Buy, Bet and race your way to the winner's circle. A fast paced chaotic romp around the track with an interesting dice movement mechanic.

Tulipmania 1637 Official Site | BGG

The Dutch tulip markets of the 17th century saw the first recorded bubble markets in history. Players are traders in this market, trying to push the values of certain bulbs to the highest point and sell them off before the bubble collapses.

Table Talk

Bridge Troll  BGG | Official Site

Collect unsuspecting travellers as they cross your bridge and turn them in for their value as food or money. Even trolls have to make a living, right?

Back Shelf Spotlight

Le Passe Trappe  BGG | Official Site

Wild, raucous dexterity game that feels older than its 2003 release. Flick wooden discs through a small opening to your opponent's side before he can empty his board.

Truckloads of Goober

Ido BGG   | Official Site

An abstract strategy game that feels like playing a Mondrian painting

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 5 games to help librarian and fellow podcaster Donald Dennis prepare a course on Hurricane disaster preparation and recovery.

Hurricane Themed Games

Hunker Down

Disaster Discovery

Hibiscus & Hurricanes

Hurricane Preparedness Board Game

Hurricane: Game of the Tropics

Disaster Preparation Concept Games

Last Days of Pompeii




Master Builder

Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

Kevin "Dice Collector" Cook

Mark "Powderkeg" Rickards

Ralf "The Alchemist" Krause

Doug "Elektro" Faust

Michael "Home Stretch" Katz

Lewis Family "Envoys of the Estates"

Mail Bag

Thanks to Erik Ingram for making us aware of Headless Hollow Game Reference Sheets


The background image for this episode is a photograph taken by Garry Knight.

Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Bet on the Whitehorse" - by Tony Furtado - buy the mp3

"Tiny Bubbles" - by Kona Inn Kanes - buy the mp3

"Bubbles" - by The Free Design - buy the mp3

"The Horseshoe" - The Sadies - buy the mp3


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


What? No Category 5? Surely that's the freebie here.

With respect to the observation about how American designers are “finally” feeling the influence of the European games, I'd say this really already happened several years ago. Be careful not to overlook the astonishingly fertile “next wave” of American designers from the last decade including James Ernest, Andy Looney, Kevin Wilson, Kerry and Todd Breitenstein and the woefully underrated Jim Doherty to name but a few, all of whom were already starting to cook as the century rolled over. They may have been doing very different work from the breakthrough German games of the mid-1990's, but you can see the influence in the new standards for components, the accessibility or the running time. (Sometimes from a slightly sardonic perspective as with James Ernest's “Bean Game” T-shirt, but then again he went on to do Gloria Mundi). I'd rather see people incorporating bits and pieces into their own work like that  than try to squeeze into a formula because it has some vocal supporters. (Occasionally, the designers interviewed in your convention segments sound nervously eager to thrust the word “Euro” into the conversation as if pleading, “Like me! Please like me! I'm one of you, really!”)  Indeed, I'd say the conversation already started coming back the other way again, with European designers responding in return by incorporating more of the humor and theme displayed by their American cousins (Red November, etc.) yet still retaining their unique flavor. Vive le difference!

After all, this conversation didn't even really start in 1990's Germany. I've always thought those games picked up where people like Sackson, Solomon and Randolph left off before games took a side trip in the 80's through hardcore AH-style simulations on one extreme and the party game boom on the other. In turn, those games of the 60's and early 70's were  building on the ancient classics in their abstracts and the golden age classics of the 30's and 40's in their family games. It's turtles all the way down with an unclassifiable oddity popping out every so often to shake things up. The problem with having this kind of broad scope is that it greatly increases the number of games you're motivated to collect.

Speaking of the 3M days, “Acquire on acid” amused me- there's a sommelier challenge in there somewhere but I don't expect you to go anywhere near it... (Aquarius? Polarity? Phoenix? Terrace, with the added challenge of figuring out how much of what you're seeing is the board and how much is just you, dude. Monad- now, that'd be tricky... Ultimate Ultimate GIPF! Anything but Set... or worse, Space Alert, now there's a panic attack waiting to happen...)


Hey, I thought we'd get some credit for *not* going for Category 5, since it was such a gimme. :)

Your point is well taken that these games do not represent the first American designers to be in conversation with European mechanics and style. If I implied this in some way, it wasn't my intent. You bring up some great examples that demonstrate the cross-currents in games are by no means a brand new thing.

My thought was that I seem to detect a larger number of designers and games joining this discussion and that the euro-influence is even more pronounced than ever before. There seems to be more inertia behind this wave, perhaps that's all I mean.

You're also right to point out that simply slapping the "euro" tag on something is no guarantee of quality. I feel fortunate that I can still aproach almost any game and try to judge it on its own merits (or lack thereof). The real benchmark of success for any game isn't its old world pedigree. For me, it's still one word: fun.

Years ago the British academic James Burke did a really brilliant television series called Connections in which he traced how the familiar inventions we live with were actually the result of a long chain of people coming up with bits and pieces rather than a bolt from the blue. I end up looking at games in a similar way; I don’t know why tracing those lines fascinates me so. One of the oddest comments I read on another game site was something like “I’ve never played this game before but there are so many better games out now that I’m not interested.” How can you argue with logic like that? I tend to have the opposite approach and the more I explore the deeper those waves run and the more the currents cross each other (which is again a pain because it makes me an absolute sucker for vintage stores and estate sales.)

And having been snippy with your poor interviewees over the last few weeks, I should clarify that I don’t think they use the word “Euro” in an attempt to inflate the apparent quality of their product. More that it occasionally sounds as if they’re trying to “fit in” so they’re taken seriously. The story goes that George Gershwin in his early music studies was obsessed with Igor Stravinsky and desperately wanted to emulate his idol. He wrote composition after composition in Stravinsky’s style and was doing fairly badly. One of his instructors eventually asked him what was wrong. “I want to be Stravinsky!” Gershwin explained.

“Stravinsky is Stravinsky,” his professor replied. “Why settle for being a second-rate Stravinsky when you could be a first-rate Gershwin?”

Awesome bubble photos!!

Here's a whole gallery of bubble pics. Really amazing!

Another great show and surely worthy of some Steerpike rambling. Of course Gregory always beats me to it :-)

Hey, Gregory, I remember that old show "Connections". It used to be my favourite as a child. You sure you're not my long lost half brother or something ?

So, to the show - great to get back to the old format and the inevitable goofs in the rules. I need to avoid turning into Captain Pedant but there were a few eyebrow raises in your explanation of Tuilpmania. Most notable was that when you purchase at the end of your turn it has to be at market rate - no more speculating, that's only in the "sell" round.  Also. I think you neglected to mention that when the bubble bursts, due to a speculation action, everyone has to discard a buyer card in that colour. Making pushing the tulip to its limits extra attractive on some occassions.

In my limited plays so far I have really enjoyed Tulipmania, although I think it worth noting that it's not necessarily a good purchase if you're only interested in the history. Whilst the story behind Tulipmania is fascinating it really has little direct bearing in the game play, which could equally be about recent stock market events. (Or that other famous bubble "the South Sea"). This is a bare economics game. A very good one in  my opinion.

Yes, Acquire on Acid. Although I learnt to play Chinatown the other day and decided that, too , could be Acquire on Acid. Or Steroids, (not that I know much about the various qualities of illegal substances)

Having said that, I'm waiting for the Deluxe version with proper card stock and mulitcoloured tulips.

Whilst we're talking about theme - I'm not sure Category 5 would really have sat well in the Hurricane Sommalier. After all, it's really about bulls heads. Mooooo.

Oh, and Die Saulen Der Erde is the German name for Pillars of the Earth. Judging by what you said about the IGA awards it sounds like there is a two player version out. I'm stoked about that one ! 

Whoops, you're right on the purchase a tulip step I did misspeak.  Apologies for the error! If memory serves, I think we have played correctly and I just got my wires crossed in the explanation. Please, don't send the Tulip mafia after me, Mr. Nicholson!

I probably should have mentioned the discarding buyer cards as well, but that was more of a conscious omission to try and give a good general sense of how the bursting markets worked. It's always a challenge to know which details to include and I'll be the first to admit we don't always succeed in this regard.

As for the historical connection/interest, I think it directly informs the game on an abstract level even if a sense of the actual period is missing. As you say, the game may boil down to the economic modeling and manipulation more than anything, but I can still see someone interested in the era being hooked by it. Even though it isn't a true simulation, it can definitely give you a sense of what it must have been like, enough at least for the history buff's imagination to kick in and fill in the details.

Category 5: I've often thought it would be fun to combine the two decks. Hurricanes full of cows. Now there's your disaster!

I meant to put the Pillars gaff in the errata. I realized my mistake as I was assembling the show notes. :)

PS: Connections is one of my all time favorite science shows. I had them all on VHS at one point. I fear they are lost to the ages now.


.. I can't seem to find it again.

What was that new game you talked about?

Would that be Endeavor?

I was just at a BBQ this afternoon hosted by one of the designers of that game and was pleased to be able to play him the section of The Spiel podcast talking about Endeavor as he hadn't heard it yet.  Just as I found the right place on the Ipod, the other designer turned up, so they both got to hear it and were delighted.

Unfortunately, it's still a few weeks away from arriving here in NZ...

Yes, Scott, Endeavor is the game in question as Sayana said.

Wow, news travels fast (and far!).

That is ever so cool! Thanks for thinking to play the segment for them. Spielers rock!

I hope we'll have a copy of Endeavor soon. Given the glowing responses I have heard so far, it is climbing up our "List" pretty quickly.

If you have regular contact with the designers, let them know we're always glad to do interviews, etc.

I'm still listening to the podcast, but a couple of things to note:

1) BGG.CON is sold out, so if someone thinking of going to the Spielathon hasn't gotten their BGG.CON ticket, they're going to have to try and wait for someone to cancel. I had to do that last year and it DID work out, but it's worth noting to the listeners that if you haven't gotten in, it may be too late already.

2) Die Säulen der Erde = Pillars of the Earth: I didn't even know there was a two-player duel type game, so that sounds like something that will be on my radar at Essen!

3) As far as conflict of interest goes: you guys only cover games you like, and it's been a while since you criticized a game's components as much as you did Longshot's so I think you're good to avoid any appearance of impropriety. :)

Looking forward to the rest of the show!!

-- Joe