Episode 125: Wag the Dog

Release Date: Apr. 18, 2011

Running Time:  161 min.

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Unleashed. We celebrate 5 years of The Spiel by wagging The Long Tail of gaming, reviewing 9 old obscure and off-the-wall games.

News & Notes: boardga.me, Show Business, Upper Deck: Evolution
The List: 
Playbill:  R.U.M.B.L.
Back Shelf Spotlight:  Muzundrum, Senet, Image
Truckloads of Goober: 
Astron, Sinking of the Titanic, Lie Detector, Robot Quiz
Game Sommelier:  5 games that are more fun to lose
Mail Bag:  Sommelier suggestions, Shapeways dice, Catapult

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

News & Notes

Boardga.me Link

New link shortening service for the board game community.

Show Business  Official Site | BGG

StManage your band and create the next generation of stars. Eye-poppingly colorful import from Polish publisher Sinonis.

Upper Deck: Evolution Cards  Official Site 

NCard sized LCD screens that play 1 minute video highlight reel loops. A novelty in the trading card world could be the beginning of a trend in gaming? Hopefully these cards fare better than the ill-conceived Haircut Signature cards, featuring strands of hair from famous historical figures. Just what every collector needs a locke of George Washington's hair. Creepy.

The List

Irondale Official Site | BGG  |  Buy It  -  Small Box Games

Expand the city of Irondale by placing your buildings in the best locations, determined by building type, ability and master plan. Simple to learn but deeper strategies await.


R.U.M.B.L.   Official Site | BGG  |  Buy It  -  Pair of Dice Games

Battle Bots meets Robo Rally. Maneuver your seven robots using programmed movement over the course of 3 rounds to the center of the arena to score the most points.

Back Shelf Spotlight

Muzundrum Official Site | BGG  | Buy It  - Philomuse

Musical Scrabble played with funky 12-sided dice. Play triads up and down on the board and scales left and right. Warning: dice may also be used to invoke the powers of the "Muzoracle!"

Senet    Wiki  | BGG | Piccione Article (pdf) |  Buy It  -  Amazon

Found in tomb paintings in 3500 BC, Senet is  one of the oldest if not THE oldest board game known in recorded history. What began as a simple diversion became a matter of mythic proportions to the Egyptians.


Image    BGG |  Buy It  -  Board Game Geek

Play cards to create the identity of 4 well known people. The more cards played, the more you'll score but also the more risk someone else will change a key element and claim them instead.

Truckloads of (Vintage) Goober

Astron / Sky Lanes     BGG |  Buy It  -  Ebay

Rolling map moves by under player's rocket ships as the race progresses!

Lie Detector    BGG |  Buy It  -  Ebay

RPlace the suspects in the black box, place the probe into a series of holes and watch for the read out for news of their guilt or innocence. Claims to be non-electronic, but we have our doubts. Then again, maybe it's powered by gnomes...

Sinking of the Titanic     BGG |  Buy It  -  Ebay

Also known as Abandon Ship, the board features the ill-fated ship on a pivot which lists and eventually sinks beneath the waves.

Magic Robot Quiz     BGG |  Buy It  -  Ebay

Circular question cards are placed in the box. The robot asks a question and you must answer. Move the robot to the answer circle and your mechanical quix master will point to the correct response.

The Game Sommelier

The Challenge: 5 games that are more fun to lose

Games Where Losing Is Very Likely

Ghost Stories


Witch of Salem

Awful Green Things from Outer Space

Nuclear War

Lord of the Rings

Games Where Story Is More Important

Galaxy Trucker

Space Alert

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Games I am Terrible At But Still Love Playing


Age of Steam, Brass, Automobile

Santy Anno

Tigris & Euphrates

Games Where Losing Is Winning

MAD Magazine game

Next Challenge (for Tom & Eric of The Dice Tower):

5 games they are terrible at but still love playing

Pledge Drive 2011

Show your financial support for The Spiel. Help us reach our goal of inspiring 25% of our audience to make a contribution.  Click here to contribute.

Mail Bag

Several Spielers sent links to Shapeways dice, including these spiffy Thorn dice.

Martin Boiselle has offered up one of his latest designs, a trick taking game called Catapult, to the Games by Spielers for Spielers forum.


Music credits (courtesy of IODA promonet) include:

No IODA tracks this time

Non-Ioda Music:

Black Dog  by Boys from County Nashville   |  Buy

Bird Dog  by The Everly Brothers  |  Buy

My Dog's Got No Nose  by Listen with Sarah  |  Link

Dogs, Part 2  by Woolen Men  |  Link

Rain Dogs  by Tom Waits  |  Buy

I Like Dogs  by Dave Merson Hess  |  Link

Hound Dog  by Big Mama Thornton  |  Buy

Hound Dog in the Window  by Homer & Jethro  |  Buy

Black Dog  by Orchestre National De Jazz  |  Buy

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


 It's always a pleasure to hear Tom Waits singing Rain Dogs - indeed I genuinely look forward to the choice of interstitial music you provide, episode on episode, to support your 'theme'. Although I believe you missed the chance to play the seminal Black Dog by Dread Zeppelin

 A wonderful trip down memory lane with the Robot Quiz. I used to have this and suspect it is still somewhere in the musty loft of the castle.


My favourite game to lose is War of the Ring. The pain of getting all the way to mount doom only to find myself corrupted (bwaaahhaaahaa) or too late (military win) is a bitter sweet moment. 

Ah, glad to know you're a Tom Waits fan too. He's a mad genius.

Thanks for the kudos on the musical selections. I think the music helps glue seemingly disparate elements together and provides a much needed mental break as well. It really helps make the show a show and not just a collection of segments.

I may have missed Dread Zeppelin, but I did include two versions of Black Dog: one with bagpipes and one with a saxamaphone. I should get *some* credit for that! :)

Side note: I actually thought about using multiple cover versions of Black Dog for the entire episode. I found a crazy clip of a Japanese musician just wailing with a Shamisen (traditional stringed instrument) and that got my gears turning... 

 A superb find. 

A whole section on Black Dog covers would have been most amusing. I did enjoy the bagpipes too :-)

I was surprised and pleased to see that 4 games that I use to own were mentioned in the goober section in this episode. I have fond memories of Astron, which a classmate of mine brought to school when I was in 4th grade in 1961. Several years later, when I was in junior high school, I found it for $1.00 in a variety store in Hartford, Connecticut. Although my friends felt it was beneath us to play such a childish game when we were sophisticated 9th graders, I still managed to get it to the table every once in a while. In the 70's I managed to get a hold of Lie Detector and in the 80's I found a copy of The Sinking of The Titanic.

Regarding The Magic Robot: as a child, I had the same exact toy only it was a genie or a wizard, not a robot.

As a result of a series of relocations and a divorce, these things are all lost to me now. But I thank you and really appreciate having these memories rekindled.

Keep up the great work.

Until recently, I hadn't played or heard of any of these vintage goober games. My pal Scott introduced me to Sinking of the Titanic, but the others were total revelations. I'm sure we could return to this subject many times to find more treasures like these.

If you have any suggestions, drop us a line.

So, I was sitting in the Origins auction, not doing well (physically and game purchasing wise), and a copy of Sinking of the Titanic came up.  I was looking to pick this one up nice and cheap, given the fact that the opening bid was $1.  

The auction started, and 7 hands went up to bid on the game.  A few dropped out at $5, even more dropped out at $10, but when I dropped at $15...I knew the Spiel effect was at play.  The game ended up going for $22!!

I'll take a bit of solace knowing that I got a copy of Titan for $11 (Valley Games edition) right after that.  

Wish I could have caught you guys there, but I was in miserable physical shape, and went home Saturday morning.  I didn't demo a single new game, and only purchased stuff in the auction.

Hope you guys had a better run than I did.