Episode 80: Spiel des Schpiel 2009

80: Spiel des Schpiel 2009

Release Date: June 8, 2009

Running Time: 150 min.

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Jury's out. Five nominees, four weeks, one chance to predict the winner. We review and discuss Dominion, FITS and Pandemic, three games in contention for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award.

News & Notes: Spiel des Jahres & Kinderspiel des Jahres recommendation lists
Nominee #1: Dominion
Nominee #2:

Nominee #3:  Pandemic
Mail Bag: Dice-o-matic, Eeny Meeny, Origins meet-up

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 News & Notes

Spiel des Jahres Recommended Games 

Diamonds Club   BGG | Official Site

Four successful gemstone dealers in an ambitious competition: they want to equip magnificently their country estates -- with the profit made from the gemstone trade. To do that, they invest their money in mines, mining rights and the latest technologies. The player who has the most valuable park at the end of the game is the Lord of Diamonds!

Mow   BGG | Official Site

Cows and flies are the main actors in Mow.  Mow is a simple card-game for 2-5 players and is illustrated by Sandra Tagliabue. Players will gather points by creating a herd, but at the same time they have to avoid getting too many flies, or else their total score will be heavily reduced.

Poison   BGG | Official Site

Players choose a potion card from their hand to add to one of three colored cauldrons, being careful not to let the pot go over a total value of 13. The player who causes the cauldron to go over 13 must take all of the cards within it, trying to avoid taking a potion mixed with poison. Be the player with either the most or none of any potion and you're safe - otherwise take the risk of receiving a deadly dose!

Cities   BGG | Official Site

Cities is a fast, tactical placing and positioning game. It takes about fifteen to thirty minutes to play. Every player builds one of the following cities: New York, Paris, London or Berlin. Each turn you choose the best spot to place the new tile. As your city grows, you place tourists at attractions, terraces and parks. The player who has built the most attractive city and has placed his tourists in the best positions wins the game.

Maori   BGG | Official Site

In MAORI, the players try to discover their own island worlds. On the islands they find, they can acquire palms and huts of their own. And there is more: boats increase the rate of discovery and shells provide additional options in this simple, yet sophisticated game.

Pack & Stack   BGG | Official Site

The players try to fill their trucks as perfectly as possible. They start each round with a random selection of goods. Then the available trucks are revealed and everybody tries to get the one truck that is most useful for his goods. The players get negative scores if they packed their truck and it was too large (a lot of unused space) or too small (a lot of goods don't fit). So it's a matter of picking the right truck quickly.

Einauge sei Wachsam   BGG | Official Site

Keep an eye on one-eye. Brave pirates, go forth! In the middle of the great ocean, lie the 8 islands where One-Eye has hidden his immeasurable treasures. Ducats, sabres, treasure chests and, of course, valuable jewels, are there to plunder. And all pirates want one thing only: to have the most! The players take what the others want and hinder each other whilst salvaging the treasure. And you’ll need plenty of sabres to defeat One-Eye, who keeps his beady eye on his treasure.

Valdora    BGG | Official Site

Hidden far away from our time lies a valley of unimaginable riches. Drawn by the lure of gold, silver and precious jewels, adventurers from all over the world soon find their way there. While some of them still carefully choose commissions and provisions, others quickly rush off to bring valuable gems back to their patrons. But those who wish for fame and fortune will have to be cleverer than their opponents!

Kinderspiel des Jahres Nominees

Nicht zu Fassen  BGG | Official Site

One player acts as wolf, and gives the other players 5 seconds time to hide their goat in one of seven furniture pieces. The Wolf then can look at 2 pieces and capture all the goats that are present there. The undiscovered goats get points.

Curli Kuller   BGG | Official Site

It’s that time again. Just like every year, Farmer Bertram has planted the little seedlings in his field. And he put up the scarecrow to protect his crop from cheeky birds. But he should have thought of the snails. They are already looking forward to the delicious meal. The first to get eight plants with his rolling snail wins the game. The fast-paced rolling game for kids and adults.

Zoowaboo  BGG | Official Site

Players have to estimate, if a number of wooden animals fit onto a raft. If everyone says "Yes!" another animal is added. If someone doubts, that all animals still fit, the others have to prove otherwise by actually putting them on the raft, and points are awarded accordingly.

Magic Labyrinth   BGG | Official Site

A new memory game with magnets and hidden walls. Move your apprentice through the maze to try and collect treasures.

Land in Sicht   BGG | Official Site

Participate in a racing around the treasures of the Island Realm! But watch out, the sea-routes to the islands are malicious: some would drive you to the islands, some would not. Just remember the correct route! The singular unfolding maps and the variable setting make each play exciting and new!

Kinderspiel des Jahres Recommended Games 

6 Nimmt Junior  BGG

Klickado  BGG

Finde de Tiere  BGG

Go Gorilla  BGG

Kofferdetective  BGG

Schwarzer Kater  BGG

Der Kleine Ritter Trenk  BGG

Hungry Wolves  BGG

Polizei- Alarm  BGG

New Contest

Your Move!  Link

New sponsor, new dice, time for a new contest. Introducing Your Move! Head over to the forum to see the format for the new contest. Over time, we'll have several varieties of Your Move contests and cycle through them. The emphasis in Your Move is on participation. Name That Game may burn your brain, but this one shouldn't. We'll pick a winner at random from all the entries and the winner will receive a set of newly minted Spiel dice!

The List

Dominion Official Site | BGG

In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards. In the center of the table is a selection of other cards the players can "buy" as they can afford them. Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.

FITS Official Site | BGG

Tetris-style tile-laying game with a great balance of strategy and luck.

Pandemic  Official Site | BGG

Cooperative game that pits players against four diseases threatening to destroy humanity.

Donors - Pledge Drive 2009

Thanks to the following donors/subscribers:

Torben "Bacchanalia" Vang

Mark "Powderkeg" Rickards

Scott "Lake Geneva" Bartell

Adony "Mr. Flexible" Beniares

Mail Bag

Thanks to Marcus Brissman for Supermarkey Psycho and a nice set of dice.

Dave has found his next project, a mini-Dice-o-Matic!

Check out Eeny Meeny, a new iPhone app from listener Brad Brooks.

Our Spiel-themed Game Journals are ordered and on their way. Pre-orders will ship out as soon as they arrive. OR if you are coming to Origins, you can pick up your journals in person.

Spiel meet-up for dinner and drinks Friday night, 6:30 Barley's Brewing Company.


The background artwork is a picture of what remains of the tree that nearly crushed Stephen's house one year ago. I am currently converting it into a cribbage table.

Music credits (courtesy of Ioda Promonet) include:

"Everyone Deserves a Prize" - by The Penny Drops - buy the mp3

"Trophy Girl" - by Nine Iron - buy the mp3

"Perfect Fit" - by Clues - buy the mp3


The new version of Poison, Baker's Dozen, is published by Playroom Entertainment, not Gamewright.

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


Great show, guys - I'm looking forward to your predictions. I have a few myself.

Some thoughts -

is Space Alert really that innovative ? there have been a number of games which try to bring DVD/Video to the boardgame world (for example AtmosFear). Perhaps this is just one that has succeeded in making the leap ? I don't know, I've not played it yet.

Dominion, I love. I have no worries about the reshuffling and as an ex-CCGer myself I really like the way that deck building has been brought into the mechanic. One of the reasons I stopped playing Magic, Netrunner and Heresey was because I was not getting the time to build decks between games.

I also think Dominion has a fair amount of interaction. When my opponent starts picking up those 6VPs I have to decide whether to do the same or keep lacing my deck with combos. Sometimes the arms race can get really tense and you get pushed into decisions. Also, when your opponent starts depleting the deck of cards you had in your master plan.... man that can suck.

There is so much in Dominion... though I don't think it's going to win. After this episode my money is on FITS but I'll wait until I've heard about the other two.

Predictions are going be tough this year, given the wide variety of good choices!

Space Alert's innovation is not just due to the CD. When I played the first time, I was concerned that the CD would be more gimmick than anything else. To me, like its cousin Galaxy Trucker, the innovation is in combining what seem like completely disparate game styles and mechanics into a cohesive whole. Programmed movement, meets co-op, meets time limit/randomizer (CD/decks of cards with challenges), meets resource management. Cram all those together in one box and most of the time, I think players walk away weeping or swearing. You may have tears or a few choice words for Space Alert but they will all be from having too much fun with it.

I may have a Dominion epiphany some day, but I am not holding my breath. I don't hate it, not at all. I'll go so far as to say I like it I just don't love it. I just don't think my game playing brain is wired in a way to really go gaga over it. That's more a statement about my own limitations than it is about the game.

That said, I certainly have not played with all the mixture of card stacks and there may be a magical combo that really unlocks the game in a new way for me. In a way, the mere fact that the game can still open up to a player like that speaks volumes about its innovative design. I
certainly give it high marks for that!

Thanks for a great episode. 

I've been listening for a little while now but finally made my way over to the site to check out show notes and the forums.

You guys do a great job and I just wanted to say Thanks.

I'm really enjoying the Spiel des Schpiel episode and look forward to the next one.  I love tracking the Spiel des Jahres nominations and awards...I don't always buy from their list, but the list has definitely turned me on to many great games, as does your show.  Thanks a ton.

You're very welcome, okester!

I really look forward to seeing the relatively unknown SdJ nominees and the recommended list. Even as game savvy as we are, I am grateful that I am exposed to so many new titles through their efforts as well.

I'm still listening to the episode now and have just finished the Dominion discussion. First the quibble: the attack cards attack ALL other players, you don't choose one to perform it on as Dave stated. So in your example, the Militia attacks Stephen, but if I were playing too, it'd attack both Stephen AND me, Dave wouldn't have to choose. Next the discussion. Dave said during the rules explanation that the "meat" of the game was the action phase. I'd argue that (and really in your discussions you did imply it) the buy phase is the REAL meat of the game. The decisions that you make to affect the course of the game are more often in the buy than in what you have in your hand. Often, your hand offers fairly limited choices and one thing is pretty obvious: it's in the buying that you really make your choices.

Now, a lot of people liken this to CCG's but honestly I think this game has more in common with To Court the King than it does with Magic. The pace, and the feel of buying your toolbox as you go at the same time as your opponents seem much more like that to me than like the measured deckbuilding and collecting I remember from lo those many years ago.

I'm really happy to see this one on the list (for once I was kind of expecting it), because as you say it really does appeal broadly, with rules that are simple to explain and a strategy that's a bit deeper.

Oh, as far as card selection, I firmly recommend (once you've tried the starter hands if you so desire) that you do the selections randomly: drafts or choices tend to suffer from groupthink (my group would NEVER play with the Witch for example) and it's way better to be able to roll with the punches when you meet new players than to have one "set" that you play. That's also IMO part of what innovates it and brings it to that next level for SdJ consideration; the variety is really nice.

Anyway, on with the episode!!

Thanks for the corrections, Joe!

Can a game have two meaty sections? If so, Dominion does! You point is very well made in that the over-arching strategy is determined by what goes into your deck and this happens in the buy phase. The actions you take in the action phase have to be pushing you toward certain purchases to give you the right mix of cards in your deck.

I see your analogy with To Court the King with constructing your path to victory using the different abilities. The whole action phase in Dominion, how you try to finesse the combos to get those mega turns seems very similar to CCGs.

I also like your suggestion about playing with random stacks. I can see how that would balance game play with experienced and novice players, since you may be thrown a particular combo of stacks that no one has seen before.

We goofed and forgot one clue on the latest NTG. I have posted a revised version in the Forums.

Check it out.

Finally getting/taking the time to listen to this episode. During the Dominion discussion it is mentioned that "I've seen turns where you can do absolutely nothing" which overlooks one thing: You always have one Buy available to you, and Copper is free.

I am surely not in the upper limits of playing this game, but I have never seen a reason to pass up taking a Copper whenever a Buy would otherwise go unused. This includes the turns when you have multiple Buys available, but spend all your money on one big card.

Oh yeah, I forgot in my correction to correct that... I KNEW there was something else! :)

It's worth mentioning that many times later in the game (or if your deck is tuned very tightly) Copper is a liability to a deck. You only have 5 cards in your hand and if your deck is filled with Golds and Silvers, something that gives you 1 coin instead of something that gives you 2 or 3 can make the difference between a Province and Not A Province. So late in the game Copper doesn't usually make sense, but yeah, often the free Copper is a good thing.

-- Joe