Essen 2018 - State of the Industry

Release Date: Nov. 1, 2018

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Running Time:   54 min.

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We are living in an era when board games are more popular than ever. More people are playing, more people are designing, more companies are manufacturing and publishing than ever before.

BUT… the purpose of this panel is not to take a victory lap.

We’re going to dig deeper and take a look at the state of the industry from many different perspectives - as members of the media, as players, as designers, as manufacturers. The goal being to take the pulse of the industry on each layer or level.

What trends do we see? Are there problems or issues simmering that need to be addressed? And since the industry is so global, no one person can get a full glimpse of the entire playful world. But collectively, we hope to assemble a clearer picture and provide a snapshot of where the game industry is today and perhaps even where we think it’s headed.

The panel:

Katie Aidley (Katie's Game Corner)

Helena Tzioti (Board Game News Online)

Odd Hackwelder (InkPlay Games)

Darrell Ottery (Eclectic Games)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 306: Calimala

Release Date: Oct. 17, 2018

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Running Time:   67 min.

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In 13th and 14th century Florence, the guild of cloth merchants known as the Arte di Calimala wielded enormous economic power. Their trade houses across Europe became financial hubs and helped to bankroll kingdoms and wars.

In Calimala, you play a member of the guild trying to spread your network of merchants and allow them to prosper. To do this you'll send workers out into the streets of Florence to take actions. Most of the time, you'll end up allowing other guild members to act as well!

The group will collectively trigger 15 different area-control scoring rounds plus work toward secret goals at the end of the game. If all goes well you will take your place on the city council and contribute to the massive cathedrals under construction. Which merchant family will rise above the rest?

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 305 - Flamme Rouge and Peloton

Release Date: Oct. 15, 2018

Download: PDF

Designer: Asger H. Granerud

Publisher:  Stronghold Games

2-6 pl  | 30-45 min  |  ages 8+  |  MSRP $60 (base)|$40 (Peloton)


You’re a cyclist pedaling through the pack, hurtling over hills, around corners, sweat soaking through your jersey when you see it, a flash of color - a signal - THE signal that the real race is on. The red flag, the Flamme Rouge, means only one kilometer separates you from the finish line. Can you fight off exhaustion and challenges from other cyclists to maneuver your team using two decks of cards to take the lead in the final stretch?

Flamme Rouge is a game of exquisite balance:

A game that will reel everyone in for a fun and exciting finish 

A game that will open up to more thoughtful decisions the more you play. 

And a game worthy of both our awards!

Read on for a full review.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 304: Maki Stack

Release Date: Oct. 2, 2018

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Running Time:   89 min.

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Mom told you, don't play with your food.

Maki Stack says forget that.

Sushi isn’t just delicious ; it's fun to build towers with it, too!

Using your fingers like chopsticks, listen close and see if you can stack your wooden maki faster than the other team. 

Then try it blindfolded! 

So much Major Fun packed into a simple set of blocks and cards.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 303: Drop It

Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018

Download: PDF

Designer: Bernhard Lach & Uwe Rapp

Publisher:  Kosmos,  Thames & Kosmos, 999 Games

2-4 pl  | 20 min  |  ages 8+  |  MSRP $30


The name says it all. Gravity is your friend and enemy in this game. Take turns dropping wooden pieces between two clear panes. Some areas you want to avoid; others, you’ll cash in for big points. The player best able to bend the laws of physics to his or her service will win the game.

Read on to  discover why we think the simple joys of playing with gravity paired with puzzle logic makes Drop It a rewarding surprise full of many different flavors of Major Fun.

Written review continues after the break.

Episode 302: Ya Blew It!

Release Date: Sept. 19, 2018

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Running Time:   75 min.

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There are lots of gems buried in this here mine. It'll take some dynamite and a bit of luck to get the shiny ones you want without collecting cursed ones that'll cost you dearly.

In Ya Blew It, you roll your stick of dynamite (a nifty 8-sided die!) trying to scoop up the best claims of gems before the prospector decides to nab them all. Mining is a high risk and reward business, so you have to play your cards just right to know when to press your luck and when to play it safe. The more you can build and protect your glittering collection, the more you'll cash in for big points. 

Tune in to explore the game and learn why we think Ya Blew offers up a heap of simple, addictive Major Fun.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

Episode 301: Hardback

Release Date: Sept. 5, 2018

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Running Time:   81 min.

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It’s the 19th century and  you’re a writer. Letters and such.

And you’re looking to break into the world of novel writing.

These novelists get paid by the word so, you’ve set your sights on penning a page turner with lots and lots of pages! You’ll earn prestige as you churn out the chapters and the writer who can finish their masterpiece first will be known as the finest novelist of the age!

Hardback is a delightful, fun and challenging twist on both deck and word building. It will make you look at the simple task of spelling in a totally new way. Each word is an engine that drives your novel forward generating income, abilities, and points.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2018 - Wrap Up

Release Date: Aug. 18, 2018

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Running Time:   84 min.

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We recap our impressions of GenCon 2018, including discussions of industry news and several games of note.

Special Guests:

Darrell Ottery (Eclectic Games)

Gubbins Boffin (The Spiel's very own sound guy)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2018 - Crossing the Cardboard & Digital Divide

Release Date: Aug. 17, 2018

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Running Time:   42 min.

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The digital world is encroaching on territory that was once purely cardboard. In an increasing number of games, a digital presence is a necessary part of the experience. 

We’re heading toward a marriage of these two worlds. And the question for some is: how comfortable we might be with this relationship? 

Our panelists have set up shop in the borderlands between the cardboard and the digital. They know this is a space worth exploring and that the future of gaming trends this way. 

We discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by crossing the cardboard and digital divide.

The panel:

Ted Alspach (Bezier Games)

Tim Fowers (Fowers Games)

Tim Burrell-Saward (Sensible Object)

image credit:

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

GenCon 2018 - The Mixed Blessings of Media Tie-Ins

Release Date: Aug. 16, 2018

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Running Time:   45 min.

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You have two good friends. Maybe one you met on a trip or at work. The other you’ve known your whole life. But they’ve never met. You love them both, but they are two separate worlds orbiting on different paths.

And then some day, by choice or some twist of fate, they meet. And you hold your breath. Because there’s that moment when you’re not sure whether these worlds will mesh together or collide in some spectacular fashion.

Now imagine that one friend is a novel or movie or comic or tv show you love. And the other friend is a favorite game designer or publisher. Two worlds we love, each in their own right, and when they come together, we hold our breath. We hope they mesh and create an experience that lets us play as - or along side -  the characters and settings we know so well. We hope for a rich thematic experience provided by the media married to gameplay that’s engaging and fun. 

This panel explores the mixed blessings of media tie-in games. What challenges and opportunities are unique to working with a media license? How do you forge an alliance between good media and good games?

The panel:

James Ernest (Cheapass Games)

Rob Daviau (Restoration Games)

David Brashaw (Baskspindle Games)

Francesco Nepitello (game designer,  War of the Ring)

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.