Episode 110: A Bushel and a Deck

110: A Bushel and a Deck

Release Date: Sept. 6, 2010

Running Time:  140 min.

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And a barrel and a heap. We shuffle off to ancient Eygpt and Brittany to take a closer look at two small press card games: Armorica and Nile.

News & Notes: IGAs, Photography Contest, The King Commands, Iconica
The List: Armorica, Nile
Special Segment: 
Avalon Hill Retrospective

Game Sommelier:  5 games where disparate experience levels can ruin the game

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

News & Notes

International Gamers Award Finalists Official Site | BGG

Finalists for the 2010 IGAs have been announced in two categories: 2-Player Strategy and Multi-Player Strategy.

International Board Game Photography Contest Official Site

Deadline for entries is Sept. 30. Full details at the link listed above!

The King Commands Official Site | BGG

Camelot has fallen! King Arthur is dead, Merlin is missing, and the treasury has been plundered. The remaining Knights of the Round Table have decided to duel over the remaining bags of gold found in the castle. To their aid they have King Arthur's crown, Merlin's crystal ball, and the magic sword, Excalibur.

Lord of the Rings - Living Card Game Official Site | BGG

New co-op 2 player card game which pits players against the worst Sauron and his forces of corruption can muster.

Iconica Official Site | BGG

Innovative adventure style card game set in Rynaga, a fantasy world created by Eric Torres.

The List

Armorica Official Site | BGG

Manipulate your line of cards to attract the most diverse set of Romans and Gauls to settle the province of Armorica.

Nile Official Site | BGG

Plant Castor, Flax, Wheat, Papyrus, and Lettuce and pray for floods to allow a bountiful harvest.

Avalon Hill Retrospective Official Site  |  BGG  Wiki


To honor the passing of Charles S Roberts, founder of Avalon Hill, we look back at the grand history of his company. Its influence on the last half century of board games in America is immeasurable.

The Game Sommelier

The challenge: 

5 games where uneven experience level can ruin the game




Dungeon Lords

Race for the Galaxy

Next Challenge: 5 books that should have board game versions


Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

Beneath the Iron Heel of Pagan Rome  by Harlan Williams  buy the track

Egyptian Ella  by Fatima Spar und Die Freedom Fries  buy the track

The House Under the Hill  by The Finches  buy the track

Avalon  by Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra  buy the track

I Wanna Count Sheep Until the Cows Come Home    by Bosse Linne  buy the track

Non-Ioda Tracks

A Bushel and a Peck  by Doris Day  buy the track


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


Hey guys thanks for talking about NILE. Glad you loved it. We are in fact giving out free sleeves when people buy the game from MinionGames.com

Also with regard to scoring I think you may have it slightly off... to score at the end of the game, you line up all your resources from least to most (left to right). Then you compare the left most pile with everyone to see who has the most in that pile. If you have the most, you win. If there is a tie you go to the second left most, etc. In other words, you don't actually score points, you just find out who has the most variety of resources and thus wins the game.

Minion Games

P.S. There is an expansion in the works with Monuments you can build. Should be out by Xmas or early next year.


Sorry for the scoring snafu. Not sure how we mangled it, but Iwe'll surely pass along the correction in the next show as well.

Glad to hear sleeves are standard issue with the game. That's a wise move, I think.

We'll be eager to see the expansion when it comes out.


Oh my god guys, you had me laughing so hard I almost wrecked my car when i heard your bit.. Glad you enjoyed the "game".  Who won the first game?


My rock beat Dave's scissors. It's embarrassing how much time we spent having rematches. :)

Thanks again! Just glad there weren't any romantic rules expansions with this one.

So Dave, you're a musician, if you were to write a song based on the Floreys' mishap, would that be a Song of Dice and Fire?


Is it right to say "Ouch" and "Awesome" at the same time? Think I'll go with "Well done."

I think Flip might need a new nickname.

Or at least a theme song...

"A Game of Bones"?

Why not combine them?

A Song of Dice and Fire: A Game of Bones.

That actually has a nice ring to it... :)

Thanks a lot guys for the mention on the show.

I was surprised at the amount of chuckling going on (at my expense of course). I was expecting Dave to scream like a little girl. But my wife is actually in better spirits about it now, thanks in part to my groveling and in part to you guys.

The power of Spiel dice hold a mighty sway in the hearts of men (and women).

And tell these bards to put away their mandolins and quills. This is one event that should only be discussed in hushed whispers.




 To me Armorica will always be the locale where Asterix and Obelix lived in a small gaulish village. Many puns were lovingly made throughout all the books ("Gods bless Armorica")


Of course when the Normans turned up they pushed a lot of the indiginous inhabitants West - thus we have Armorica dividing into modern day Normandy and Brittany ('Normans' & 'Brittons')


Thank you for mentioning Asterix and Obelix. I had that juicy little bit of trivia in my notes and somehow, I forgot to include it when we started blabbering.

If memory serves, there's a Kosmos 2-player game that features A & O. That means there are *two* games set in Armorica. How cool/odd/esoteric is that?

There is indeed a Kosmos 2 player game Astrerix and Obelix (I own it). It's a neat little push your luck game with a fun Asterix theme.


There is also another game - Asterix: Das KartenSpiel - which I played at a convention a few years ago. Very clever card game with some neat mechanics.



So we now have three Armorican games.

Actually I dare say there are a number of other Asterix franchise games knocking about (I remember having an RPG book one when I was a child).


ooop - a quick BGG search shows loads:



 Whilst uneven experience in Go can lead to quite an imbalance - the game does have a very good handicap mechanism allowing newer players to have significant advantage.

Actually an experienced player will always offer a new starter a 'teaching game' and the mechanics lend well to this. It is considered impolite for a highly skilled player to crush his opponent like a bad piece of sushi. 

Yeah, sorry about that Stephen :-(

I wasn't aware of handicaps in Go. Interesting.

I like getting schooled when I am learning, since it allows me to see how the "pros" really play.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

 the handicap system in Go is considered one of the best amongst the classics.

Effectively you give your opponent additional stones, before the game starts, which are placed on the 'star points', dependent on the difference in your rankings.

I am currently playing a beginner, giving him a three stone handicap. This allowed him to place stones on three of the four corner star points before I even begun. It is quite a job to turn that advantage round.

Last time I played a Dan player (first level professional) he gave me nine stones and - to my pride - I managed to come close losing by only ten points. Of course he was teaching me at the same time - I'm sure he could have destroyed me had the whim taken him. 

Kudos to the surprisingly thorough Avalon Hill retrospective. While games like Dune and Circus Maximus still awaiting their triumphant return, hopefully in the hands of someone who recognizes that while their rulebooks’ style is admittedly archaic, the rules themselves hold up quite well indeed, the new owners have perhaps given the AH imprint as fair a shake as they’ve known how. Indeed with worthy titles like Vegas Showdown and Betrayal At House on the Hill, it seemed to be the only place that Hasbro briefly dared to experiment with new titles rather than throwing an established brand onto a box full of variants. But they stumbled on a few of those titles, and the online gamerati is a tough and unforgiving crowd- indeed one unidentified game designer I met at PAX referred to the more obsessive denizens of a certain website as “people who would complain about anything”. Someone for instance has listed Rocketville on BGG as the worst game in their collection despite admitting in the same post that they had never actually played it; the echo chamber’s resonating word was enough for them. Those who didn’t know the AH name didn’t support the new titles and those who did attacked them and well, they just seemed to kind of give up. Hopefully the return of Betrayal this October will do well enough to persuade the company that having a more experimental wing can pay off and we’ll see another batch of new titles. Hopefully those new titles will in turn be impressive enough to make people reconsider calling them “Hasbro Hill.” Hopefully I will shortly be showered with thousands of dollars in small bills while an enticing temptress tells me how very interesting I am.

Oh and okay, perfesser, I feel really stupid now. I always assumed that Joyce had coined the word Armorica as in “Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea had passencore rearrived from North Armorica” etc… Sheesh! How could I ever have forgotten such a legendary group of fighters as the Armorican pikemen, also known as (wait for it…) the Brittany Spears! (Yes. Yes. It took a lot of Gaul to make that joke...)

Good point to remind people "Hasbro Hill" has taken some chances with new titles and these games have been (on the whole) very solid and fun. Like you I hope the reprint of Betrayal gives them incentive to add to Avalon Hill's legacy, not simply milk it like a cash cow.

 Something I was thinking about during the Sommelier segment this time: While there are definitely plenty of games where experience level can make break an experience, I see two categories here.

There are games (Chess comes to mind, trickier open information games and even more traditional war games) where it can be a huge learning boon to get trounced a few times by your superior. We tried Breakout Normandy one time, and struggled just figuring out what we needed to be doing: that one goes back on the shelf until one of us can get stomped on by a grog and bring that experience back to the table. 

Other games as Dave mentioned (card driven games in particular I think fit this), reward knowledge of the deck. These are great games for learning along with your regular gaming group. It can be very rewarding to discover the card deck with another new player, but that is a difficult process against someone who already knows which cards are added in a certain phase and can prepare for that. 

It may not be as much fun losing big several times in a game, but in many cases it can be a rewarding learning experience.

Scrabble seems to fit here as well since it really is a completely different game for us casual kitchen table types as for those who have memorized every unlikely but legal two-letter combination. An easy handicap here can be simply choosing which reference book to use. After all many of those vexing words appear primarily in the Official Scrabble Dictionary and rarely elsewhere. For games of mismatched opponents, use a less imposing dictionary like your standard collegiate desk edition. This gives the expert player the extra challenge of guessing whether or not that specific book will back him up if he's challenged on the rare South American bird whose name contains Q, X, Z and a double A. 

Tournament Scrabble and tournament Scrabble players are a different breed altogether. That style of play really cuts the heart of the game out for me. It more a contest of memory and study than play at that point. I can certainly appreciate the effort it takes to get that good, but it doesn't make playing the game more fun!

If anyone is interested, you should check out Word Wars, a film that follows a very disparate group of tournament Scrabble players preparing for the National competition.

Like you, I don't mind losing when the loss helps me understand the game.

I think your two categories apply *if* you also go into the game with the above attitude.

I like the open information aspect in the more complex games since there is greater opportunity for the experienced player to point out or suggest options if things get confusing. In a card game, I find myself more likely to focus and the simpler strategies if my mind is boggled by the combinations or special text.