Episode 371: Paris

Release Date: April 19, 2021

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  35 min.

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Welcome to Paris circa 1900. It is the height of La Belle Epoque and every neighborhood in the city is busy with new construction. From Beaux-Art to neo-Byzantine and neo-Gothic to Art Noveau and Art Deco... new cafes, theatres, bookshops, bakeries, hotels, and homes are springing up in a wide variety of architecural styles. 

You are a visionary investor helping to finance buildings in six different arrondissements in Paris. Start small with the backing of local banks and use two simple actions (place a key, move a key) to develop and transform the city. As you build, you'll gain access to a bonus track filled with a variety of incredible opportunities. The player best at stacking these bonuses will find greater rewards and create a lasting legacy through the iconic landmarks of Paris.

Tune in to explore the beautiful streets of Paris and learn why it earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 370: Cloud City

Release Date:  Feb. 6, 2021

Download: PDF

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Publisher: Blue Orange Games 

2-4 players  | 30 min  |  ages 10+  | 3 min to learn | MSRP $35

 

You are an architect creating a layout for a network of interconnected skyscrapers. Up and up, higher and higher, the city rises! The City Council will select only one architect’s plan - the most ambitious expansion will gather the most votes and become a blueprint for your very own city in the clouds!

Cloud City is a game about building bridges. The more bridges and the longer bridges you can construct to connect buildings of similar height, the more votes you will secure from the City Council. 

Cloud City condenses the quiet, contemplative fun of a much longer and more involved game into a brief encounter. A short story instead of a novel. No less moving or interesting for its brevity, but certainly more accessible.

Read on to discover why Cloud City has earned BOTH our awards!

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 369: Orbital Velocity

Release Date: March 26, 2021

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  63 min.

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During the early days of space exploration, two nations are competing to be the first to launch satellites into various stages of Earth orbit. In order to accomplish this amazing feat of science and technology, your nations decide to pool resources and knowledge to design rockets together. 

Can you play cards to maneuver a jointly controlled rocket to the right orbital velocity and deploy your satellite first? As the rockets reach orbits farther from Earth, the challenges and calculations increase. The first to deploy three satellites will win an early lead in the Space Race and be crowned the Queen (or King) of Physics for a day.

Orbital Velocity is a simple, subtle, and ambitious game. 

From the foundation of an easy to learn math-based card puzzle, the game offers an elegant, intuitive path to understand the cosmic force of gravity and more worldly concepts in Economics and Game Theory.

Tune in to explore the game and learn why Orbital Velocity earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 368: Ubike Tours: Taiwan

Release Date: March 15, 2021

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  97 min.

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Let’s take a bike trip around northern Taiwan. So much to see!

The night markets in Taichung, the great Buddha statue in Changhua, the Hakka Round House in Maioli, the Science Park in Hsinchu, Da Xie Old Street in Taoyuan, Cape Santiago in New Taipei City and Liberty Square in Taipei City just to name a few…. 

Play scenery cards to visit as many sites as you can over the course of nine stops. The traveler who plans the best and pedals great distances will score well and create a memorable trip.

Ubike Tours: Taiwan draws inspiration from two beloved modern classics: Six Nimmt and the 10 Days In series. It combines familiar mechanisms with a clever press-your-luck element to create a lovely balance of strategy and chance.

Grab a bike, explore each option and be ready to pounce when opportunity presents itself. There’s a fun world waiting for you in Ubike Tours: Taiwan behind the flip of every card.

Tune in explore the game and discover why it is Major Fun!

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 367: The One Hundred Torii

Release Date: March 8, 2021

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  32 min.

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The One Hundred Torii is a game that values journey over destination.

Players create a beautiful Japanese garden together by laying tiles, making their way through Torii gates, beautiful red arches - each one an invitation to enter a sacred space. 

Step into a peaceful realm of flowers, fountains, and shrines. You may even encounter a poet, a vendor, perhaps even a wandering samurai.

Each path you make is a chance to collect memories - the sights and sounds, the landmarks and people you encounter along the way.

Observe, create, accomplish. The One Hundred Torii offers us a chance to see that our movements have meaning beyond the everyday - an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Tune in explore the game and discover why it earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 366 - Yura Yura Penguin

Release Date:  Feb. 26, 2021

Download: PDF

Designer: Ryoko Yabuchi

Publishers: Ryoko Yabuchi

2-6 players  | 10-15 min  |  ages 7+  | 2-3 min to learn | MSRP $28

 

An iceberg has melted and a whole village of penguins needs a new home! Can you stack together enough ice to build them a place to stay? The wind (or other players…) might make it wobble, so it will take a steady hand to find the right balance to place each level and find a perfect spot for each bird.

Yura Yura Penguin is a charming and clever card-based dexterity game where players build an uneven tower higher and higher, placing blocks of ice and penguins on different levels. Be the first to play all your ice cards and avoid making the tower topple to win the game.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 365: Castles of Tuscany

Release Date: February 17, 2021

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  107 min.

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Northern Italy in the 15th century was ruled by influential noble families. Can you guide your region to prosperity by supporting farms, mining, monasteries, villages and trade?  Building out from a single castle, each decision can create a chain of benefits, providing more opportunities and actions. Garner the most power over the course of three turns and you will secure your family’s legacy and influence across all of Tuscany.

Castles of Tuscany is beautifully simple tile laying game that creates space and opportunity for depth and strategy. The game challenges players to stack simple small decisions together in order to build complex chains of actions and bonuses. The pleasure and fun that comes from thoughtful play doesn't require dense rulebooks... only the subtle genius of designer Stefan Feld.

Tune in explore the game and discover why it earns our Spiel of Approval.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 364: Cupcake Academy

Release Date:  Feb. 8, 2021

Download: PDF

Designer: Erwan Morin

Publishers: Blue Orange Games

2-4 players  | 10 min  |  ages 8+  | 3 min to learn | $22

 

Seven minutes separate you and your team of pastry chefs from enrolling at the world famous Cupcake Academy. How many assignments can you complete, exchanging and stacking colored cups on plates, readying them for the kitchen? 

Be quick, but be careful.

The judges are very picky, so each order has to be just right for everyone to move on. Complete all the assignments before time is up and you’ll enjoy the sweet taste of victory.

Read on to explore the cooperative logic puzzle at the gooey center of Cupcake Academy and discover why we think it is Major Fun!

Written review continues after the break.

The Short List - 2020

 

We play hundreds of games every year. Each one is given due consideration for  The Spiel of Approval and Major Fun Awards.

Out of these hundreds, only a dozen or so games are selected per award. 

Inevitably, there are games that might not fit all of the award criteria but are games we really enjoy nonetheless.

These games make our Short List. 

Think of the Short List as an Honorable Mention category.  

They might not have made the final cut, but any game on our Short List is one we think is engaging and fun.

Read on to explore the list.

I bet you'll find at least a couple you'll be itching to try! 

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 363 - Holiday Party

Release Date: Dec. 21, 2020

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:   225 min.

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Join our party of misfit nerds for fun, games, and freewheeling conversations spanning the wide world of geekdom.

We hope you'll be in a festive mood for the season after being part of some Grade A goofing around.

Guests:

Francie Broadie (Indianapolis, IN)

Stephen Buonocore (Boynton Beach, FL)

Allen Chen (Cupertino, CA)

Alex Despres (Arlington, TX)

Suzie Despres (Arlington, TX)

James Engelhardt (Greenville, SC)

Gubbins (Indianapolis, IN)

Jeremy Piets (Midway Point, Tasmania)

Debbie Ohi (Toronto, Canada)

Darrell Ottery (Reading, UK)

Jeff Ridpath (Toronto, Canada)

Lucio Rodriguez (Riverside, CA)

Katherine Rosland (Stavanger, Norway)

Kristof Tersago (Sint Truiden, Belgium)

Mark Smalley (Indianapolis, IN)

Mark Wilder (Chicago, IL)

**SPECIAL THANKS**

Debbie Ohi provided the fun and festive artwork for this episode! 

You can watch the party on Youtube here!

 

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

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