Episode 123: The Postman Always Brings Dice

Release Date: Mar. 21, 2011

Running Time:  126 min.

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What's the rumpus? We dive into the dark waters of international smuggling for a review of Cargo Noir plus three other brand new titles: Nightfall, Chronicle and Shake 'n Take.

News & Notes: Hike, Mirror Mirror, Winter Tales
The List: 
Cargo Noir
Playbill:  Nightfall
Table Talk:  Chronicle
The Kid's Table: 
Shake 'n Take
Game Sommelier:  5 gamerly games improvised from classic games
Mail Bag:  Lost die, Balloon Tardis, Dave turns 28

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

News & Notes


New game from Moosestache Games, the makers of Rowboat. Designed by Kiril Tchangov. Tentative release date: May 2011.

Mirror, Mirror  Official Site | BGG

Stratego with physics!. Maneuver your pieces with mirrors to find your opponent's prized letter.

Winter Tales  Official Site 

Narrative driven board game in development by Italian publisher Albe Pavo. Very intriguing!

The List

Cargo Noir Official Site | BGG  |  Buy It  -  Starlit Cit. | Boardgame Guy

Send your time agents through three ages of human history: Might, History, and Reason, to reshape the landscape and your kingdom.


Nightfall   Official Site | BGG  |  Buy It  -  Starlit Cit | Boardgame Guy

Manipulate your cadre of fiends and monsters to rule the night. This deck drafting card game is fast and brutal and features a fun mechanic called chaining.

Table Talk

Chronicle Official Site | BGG  | Buy It  - Starlit Cit. | Boardgame Guy

Fantasy themed trick taking game from Japan where each suited card played to a trick triggers its special ability. Victory conditions change each round.

The Kid's Table

Shake 'n Take    Official Site  | BGG |  Buy It  -  Boardgame Guy

Roll the shape die, circle aliens on your board as fast as you can, because your neighbor will be shaking the alien egg furiously the whole time. The minute the alien head comes up, your opponent will swipe your pen and start rolling and circling their own board.

The Game Sommelier

The Challenge: 5 hobby games that could be improvised from classic game parts

Memoir '44
Galaxy Trucker

Next Challenge: 5 hobby games that could be improvised from classic game parts

Mail Bag

Spieler Flip Florey needs our help. Vote for his balloon TARDIS here!


Music credits (courtesy of IODA promonet) include:

No IODA tracks this time

Non-Ioda Music:

The Mooche   by Duke Ellington  |  Buy It

How Fucking Nocturnal  by RIAA  |  Album

Bidin' My Time  by Enoch Light and The Light Brigade  |  Buy It

Autumn Leaves  by The Three Suns  |  Buy It

Popcorno Revenge  by Messer Chups  |  Buy It

Mister Ghost Goes to Town  by John Buzon Trio  |  Buy It

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


Great response to the Somm. challenge I gave you! I am impressed. Just so you know it was all in the spirit of the challenge. I know if I was stuck at Aunt Edna's I would be raiding the kitchen and her sewing kits for pieces to use in games. "Okay, now the mothballs represent enemy troops...."

And I want to play the Candy Land Pandemic! That sounds like a riot!! Great, the Mollasses swamp is almost completely infected! I'm not going in there!

Thanks for the shout out about my Tardis as well. I will send you along a picture of a balloon armadillo. I can use every vote I can get! And keep voting everyday until May 15th!

Thanks, Flip. Glad I passed the challenge!

A Spieler (DivineTed on Twitter) pointed out that Matt Leacock's first prototype for Pandemic used basic playing cards, so my Candyland version is sounding more plausible than ever. :) Here's a link to a picture of the first board


Best of luck with the Tardis contest. Hope we can send enough votes your way to tip the balance.

 I like the sound of 'Hike' - I am a big fan of "Harbour Master" on the iPhone so it will be interesting to see how the foray into card games goes.

As to the sommelier - well, if it was me I'd just play cribbage all weekend with Stephen. Fun, creative answers but a pointless exercise when you have a deck of cards available :-)


Nice to have finally nailed a Name that Game - and in the same week as Gregory. I am not worthy. You sure you're not trying to forestall the revolution with concessions? 

Being the card game übernerd, I'd be happy as a clam with the 4 decks for the weekend (though I would have to modify one so we could play Scopa, too.

As for postponing the rebellion, the dice controlled your destinies, not us. Though they were Spiel dice...

(IS enters from the left wing of your mind, hands on head and flanked by weapon-toting, black leather-clad troopers. He shouts quickly as he is marched across your field of thought. He stops and does a quick double take at Stephen and Dave in the gold lame high-collared capes and skullcaps. Oh of course, “wasn’t us; dice controlled your fate; we never interfere”… the usual line from the Game Lords of Spielifrey, keeping their hands clean as always… hmmph, not buying it…)

Hey, dice! Wow, I’ve just been amusing myself but now I’m so close to completing my set of six dice that I may finally be able tp construct my special Spiel Farkle game which I will call “Sparkle”! (People didn’t seem to react well to the idea of a quick game of “Feel…”) After which, I shall retire from competition. Thanks, guys! They should help pass the time… (Don’t use Scott’s post office though.) I may be er… tied up for a while… Hope Steerpike enjoys Dragonheart; it’s more bizarre than it first appears and yet another fine Kosmos 2-player entry. (Wonder what would happen if somebody just played through all of those in- oh I don't know some kind of "cage match". Nah, my mind's still stuck in 2006...) I’m still mulling over strategies. Don’t know why Dave has the distaste for the Mirror Mirror flavor text; after all, it gives him something to save up for the next Valentine’s Sommelier Challenge.
Relieved to hear you enjoyed Cargo Noir. The lukewarm reaction it seems to have gotten was making me doubt myself. “Gamerly”, hm… I know, I know;  it’s my old hobbyhorse but I don’t want every game designer to feel pressured to pander to the same REAL (all caps) gaming audience, especially when that audience has such very specific (and vocal) tastes and biases. I worry that the need to squeeze things into the jargon of “the business” could lead to a shelf full of colorful boxes that contain more or less the same thing. Cargo Noir does aim lower, in more ways than one, but hits its target more accurately than many of DOW’s more ambitious titles. Those may “explore every option” but often at the cost of many of those explorations feeling clunky, half-baked or tacked-on. This is a simple, straight-up game of chicken and had it been better received, I suspect that the aspects you missed would have shown up in expansions. I like throwing wild tiles into a set of unlike tiles when paying. It lets me identify it as any bizarre commodity that takes my warped fancy at the time. I didn’t think "Harlem Nocturne" had lyrics but let me check- whoa! The Spiel breaks the language barrier!  That’s not making it to the Kids’ Table. (Hope those Shake ‘n’ Take components are durable by the way; sounds like they take a beating.)
This leads into my predictable response to your Sommelier challenge. While I greatly enjoyed your humorous creativity and don’t want to crash the joke, my first suggestion would be try playing the originals from your new “gamerly” perspective. You might just find as I did that many of your memories are a bit off and your prejudices slightly misplaced, leaving you with a few new options in your game cabinet that you didn’t realize you had. Except Candyland of course, but sheesh it says "A Child’s First Game" across the damned box, what do you expect?
 (The troopers impatient with the same old rant, continue to drag Is off mind right as he cries, “Hey, call my lawyer, wouldja? 1-800-3MP-OINT! Tell him I can pay him this time! Help!”)

I haven't gotten to the episode yet (getting close...still behind on all my shows), but I've just got to say that Cargo Noir has fallen completely flat for me.  I've played it with 3-4-5 players. 

The 5 player game just crawled along, one player did get a slight case of analysis paralysis, but everyone got bored well before the end of the game.  We committed to finishing, but nobody saw a reason to stay at the table when it wasn't their turn.  Most of us started up second games in the meantime.  The 4 player game was the best one, because there were a lot of conflicts going on, but it still just felt like a very average game to me.  The 3 player game felt a bit too light, as the players never felt the need to battle each other for spaces.  Luckily, the 3 player game was quick. 

Cargo Noir is a definite "skip" for me...makes two strikes in a row, since I strongly disliked Mystery Express as well.  Hope DoW's next game is better.


I think Cargo Noir is intended to be quick. As with most games analysis-paralysis can really kill the experience.

It's also intended for a broad audience of players. It may well be this is a game not trying to speak to your more refined gaming tastes, but I think there's a wide cross-section of players and people new to the hobby/euro market that could find it fun and engaging.

 Finally got around to the episode, and I now can see your point about the audience for Cargo Noir.  I Perhaps I was doing with this, a bit of what I tell people to avoid when watching a movie.  "Don't watch the movie you want to see, watch the movie they have made for you."  

I guess that with Days of Wonder games before, I had built up a bit of an expectation for easy to play games, that still have a lot going on.  Ticket to Ride, Cleopatra, and Coliseum are good gateway style games that have a bit of meat for more well-versed gamers.  So when I got to Cargo Noir, and finished the game with a "That's it?" feel...I was let down.  (BTW, I like the term "refined gaming tastes" I'll remember that the next time I'm playing Poo: The Card Game).  I might have been guilty of expecting something different than DoW was wanting to give me.


 How about a modified version of Acquire?

You have Scrabble tiles and the board to make the game grid, there's Monopoly Money, you could use the Uno Cards to denote the shares.  

There would have to be changes...but you could at least get the jist of the game using just those pieces.


Another game I just thought of was No Thanks.

Use the houses from the Monopoly set as the betting chips, and you could just mark up a deck of cards for the deck.

Both really good ideas! I especially like Acquire with the Monopoly board since thematically the games are somewhat similar.

No Thanks is crowd pleaser for gamers and non-gamers whenever I have played.