Episode 97: Longshanked

97: Longshanked

Release Date: Mar. 1, 2010

Running Time:  132 min.

Listen Now:

Download: Enhanced Version - MP3 Version

Subscribe via iTunes: Enhanced - MP3

See sidebar for other subscription options


To arms! Wargames with legs. We review three simple, but very strategic titles enjoyable by non-wargamers, including an in-depth look at Hammer of the Scots.

News & Notes: New England Rails, Dixit 2, Uncle Skunkle Games
The List:
Hammer of the Scots
Table Talk: 
Back Shelf Spotlight:  The Battle for Hill 218

Game Sommelier:  5 electric games that are more than gimmicks
Mail Bag: 
Lucio's angst, BGDF

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

New England Rails  BGG

A new rail game soon to be published by Rio Grande and designed by author and friend of the show, Walter H. Hunt.

Dixit 2  BGG

Follow-up to the hit party game from 2009 with many new cards designed by the original artist.

Uncle Skunkle Games Official Site | Purple Pawn

Fun giant wooden games! New releases at Toy Fair in NYC this year.

The List

Hammer of the Scots Official Site | BGG

Players take on the roles of William Wallace or Edward I to determine the fate of Scotland, using small wooden blocks hidden from the opponent's view.

Table Talk

Manoeuvre Official Site | BGG 

Napoleonic era warfare in a super condensed form. Eight units battle on 4 modular boards, using a fast, innovative card and dice system.

Back Shelf Spotlight

The Battle for Hill 218 Official Site | BGG 

A 15 minute wargame? You bet! The game is 2 - 26 card decks filled with WWII era troops. You'l determine the outcome of the battle by playing cards whose support and attacks overlap, allowing you to take your opponent's home base.

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 5 games that use electricity that are good games, not just gimmicks.

Foto-Electric Football




Mind Flex

Next Challenge: 5 games for St. Patrick's Day.

Mail Bag

Thanks to Matt Saunders for providing the link to the Board Game Designer's Forum contest for game concepts for the upcoming iPad.

Greg Lam wants some input on the rules to Restaurant Row.


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"James Brown Ate My Bagpipe" by Taxi Chain - buy the track

"Sleep Soond In'da Moarnin" by Kim Robertson - buy the track

"Scotland" by Tony Hall - buy the track

"Medley" by the Triumph Street Band of Canada - buy the track

Non Ioda music:

"The Battle of Bannockburn" by Grave Digger

"If I Had a Hammer" by Pete Seeger


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

One rules goof during our review of Hammer of the Scots.

During the BATTLE Phase in Hammer of the Scots, you roll dice equal to the block's current STRENGTH (the # of diamonds) and your target number to hit is the combat value (A3, for instance). Dave says the # of dice rolled and the target # are both determined by the combat value.


It's funny that you talked about games with electronic gadgets in the sommelier because my last TGIF poll on boardgamegeek was aboout that.  Sadly, as a big fan of gadgets in games, I am a little disappointed with your picks Dave.

I hated Simon, and I certainly would never characterize it as a "good" game.  Perfection, at least as i remembered it, wasn't battery powered at all, you simply cranked up the device by hand.  And it wasn't even really a game, just a solo puzzle-solving experience.  I'll reserve judgement on the other 3 as I haven't played them, but aside from Khet they sound more like gimmicks than games.

Suggestions that could/should have made the list:

1.  Space Alert (true it doesn't come with an electrical gadget, but you really need one to play it.) - You guys know all about this game, so no explanation is needed.

2.  eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game - A really entertaining and fun auction game that I would recommend to most gamers.  Players simply play auction cards to try and buy items, hoping that their bid will be the last one so they can complete their collections.

3.  Break the Safe - A fun family cooperative game where the safe is actually an electronic timer that counts down the minutes as the players race around looking for keys to unlock the safe.  It's a lot of fun for kids especially.

4.  Electronic Catch Phrase - A great party game for huge groups.  Hot potato combined with a word game, and this one works with all ages.

5.  This vs. That - A hidden gem that was almost exclusively sold at Starbucks.  This party game makes a player try to get his teammates to guess a list of words.  The trick is that the amount of time the player has to give clues is equal to the amount of time it took the other team to make the list.

6.  Cranium Conga, Pop 5, & Hoopla - All of these are much improved adaptations of the standard Cranium game.  They are much more fun, and faster.

7.  Thingamajig - The predecessor to Dixit.  Players must give clues to a word that most of the players will be able to guess, but not all of the players will guess.

8.  Clue Secrets & Spies - A new game that has nothing at all to do with the classic game of Clue (no deduction at all.)  This one might even fit in the goober segment because it comes with a handheld blacklight that players use to read secret cards.  It also can be played with a cell phone that will receive secret text messages throughout the game.  There's definitely a game here, and it is just improved with the electronic gadgets.

Ben, thanks for your input on the Sommelier!

Simon was a tough one to swallow for me personally, but Dave is good at keeping the kid's mindset in mind.

I do remember enjoying the heck out of it with my sister until all she wanted to play was Simon.

Another good option for the Back Shelf Spotlight would have been:

Brawling Battleships Steel from Lost Battalion Games

This is one of my favorite card games covering Naval warfare.  Reasonably quick to play and really good for anywhere from 3 to 6 players.  The cards are incredible and the game play is fun.  You should check it out at www.lostbattalion.com/t-bb_introduction.aspx.  They also have links there to a wonderful set of descriptions for each of the Battleships depicted on their cards.


Todd Heidenreich 


The card illustrations are wonderful. Really distinctive and interesting.

Thanks for the tip! I'll have to check it out.

They must have been standing behind me just the day before yesterday when I discovered a stack of Columbia titles at the thrift store. I was strong; I walked away uninterested (“Me, I don’t usually do wargames…”) but no, we can’t have that. No, somewhere a black phone rings. A gloved hand stops stroking a a white Persian cat to pick up the receiver, listens for a moment then sneers in a tight but amused voice with a strange accent that doesn’t seem to come from anywhere specific, “Valking avay from a purchase, Meester Ees? No, no, my friend; you veel not escape so easily.” A chair swivels the face into shadow as the voice barks, “Activate… The Spiel Effect!”

Ominous horn music swells from an unseen source and a vast skylight rolls back as a massive ray gun is elevated into position. The figure turns his attention to the gagged writhing tuxedoed man strapped to the slab in the center of the room. “You thought me mad for ruthlessly cornering the vorld market on shelves? Vell, just vatch thees!” A strange buzzing begins to build and the next thing I know I can’t clearly remember where I’ve been between listening to the podcast at work and admiring the simple setup for War of 1812. I suppose I must have put these stickers on but really the only thing that comes back is how irritated I was that the copy of Crusader Rex had already been snatched before I got there and how I’m going to have to keep an eye out for a copy. Thinking out loud, I say, “I’m probably going to need another set of shelves soon..” Somewhere, a cat curls deeper into the Nehru jacket of its owner as he laughs and laughs in mad triumph, pulling the lever that sends the snappily dressed prisoner into the adjacent pool of starving moray eels. Very nasty.

Perhaps it’s reckless abuses of modern technology like this that makes me skeptical of electronic gadgetry in the otherwise innocent and simple world of table games. I know I’m going to be in a minority of one here, but I’m really not all that amped up about the   cutting edge things discussed in the previous episode. Strange that this comes up in the wargame episode; I once suffered a grisly chariot accident in a game of Circus Maximus that was somehow more spectacular for me because the unassuming cardboard chits let my imagination run wild. (By the way, does Simon really qualify as a board game using electronic elements when the electronic element is all there is to it?) There are however the rare exceptions. I concur with Mr. Lott’s mention of Space Alert, fondly remember Electronic Detective from the 80’s, and think that Hasbro missed a trick by not throwing more weight behind last year’s electronically augmented Trivial Pursuit. Trivial Pursuit doesn’t fill thrift stores because it’s a bad game, quite the opposite. It’s because each box comes with a limited information well. Having it hooked into the internet and a potentially endless supply of new questions should have made for a bigger hit than it did.

but we're getting there!

Glad to know our eyes in the sky are keeping good tabs on you, Gregory, if for no other reason than to track down thrift stores that have Columbia games! I make the circuit to our Goodwill stores here and I am lucky to find a beaten up copy of Uncle Wiggly missing half the box. I would have snapped up Crusader Rex, for sure. Sorry you missed out on it.

I had a chance to play Stop Thief with Carlos Hernandez a couple weeks ago. That was a blast from the past! Funny how often I thought I had the culprit cornered only to realize he could have been in two different places instead of one. They could do a great refresh of that title with a new mini-computer!

It's been a few days since I actually listened (switching jobs mid week has kept me busy), but I think I caught a rules problem in the explanation of Hammer of the Scots. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounded like you were saying that you rolled the number of dice based on the combat number of the unit (B3 rolls 3 dice). In fact, your strength (the number of steps you have left on the block) determines how many dice you throw in combat.

One the previous Name That Game - it's a good thing I didn't try to solve the puzzle, since I was pretty sure that the Queen of Scat was from one of your more obscure card games, and went with the King and Ace of Scat.

A game I am looking most forward to (shipping from P500 order right now) is GMT's Washington's War. It has a few more of your typical war game elements (combat modifiers, etc), but I think it has a lot of crossover potential.

Yes, Jonathan, we goofed on the number of dice rolled in the battle phase. I added it to the errata above almost immediately after the episode posted. :)

I've been primed to play the German game Skat for quite a while. I just haven't found any takers other than Dave. We need three or four victims. Seems like a classic game I will quickly become addicted to.

I have had several people recommend Washington's War in the past week. Looks like I may have to look into getting a copy!

Oops - I don't actually read the show notes, I just listened to the show after all :)