Tag Archives: boardgames

Small World and a Small Look at Colonialism

In Small World players act as races that first extinguish lost indigenous tribes and then go after each other. Who are these lost tribes? Where are we coming from? I don’t know, but we’re all kinda pissed that we’re all here. OK, well, maybe not pissed, but certainly cranky and we all want our space, and your space, and their space. Why? Because the more spaces on controls the more points one gets and the player with the most points wins. This is colonialism.

You know what? I just tried typing the whole set-up and that was tedious. Let me link you to the rules and give you a basic idea of what you are doing instead. Also, look at this picture.

Small World Set Up

So, you will choose a race that has been paired with an ability. On your turn you place your corresponding tokens on regions, starting from the edge and make sure they are connected unless your ability says otherwise. at the end of your turn you collect money for the spaces you occupy. Simple enough. First though, there are Lost Tribe tokens you must battle. All that means is you use one more token from your army than you would have, same for areas with mountains. Other players will do the same, but look out! Players can come after your regions as well, thus depriving you of points and gaining points for themselves.

Agh! So frustrating. My Farming Humans can’t compete against the Bivouacking Ratmen. No problem. Put your race in decline. Go ahead. Do it. Now pick a new race with a new ability. See how you do. This is one of the things I enjoy about Small World. You are able to try different strategies with different races and abilities within one game. Maybe choosing the Amazons will allow you to rally and win the day after all.

There are also many expansions in case you get bored with all of the combinations that come with the core game. We currently only have the Grand Dames expansion. It was a must have as the Amazons are the only women represented in the core game.

Is this game fun? It is for me and my family, and for our few friends we have played it with. Are there concerns? Potentially. Let’s address them. You are displacing indigenous tribes. Yes, they are “Lost” and pretty faceless on the tokens in the game. It’s all to make you feel ok about pushing people out of their lands. All of the other players are doing the same thing, and then you may all go after each other. This is colonialism, but hey it IS an area control game. Should these things concern you? Maybe not. They didn’t concern me because it’s dwarves and giants and ratmen and ghouls. It’s a fantasy world. It did, however, concern a friend of mine and we had a great discussion about it being representative of the world at large and its history. It’s not a game she will want to play again anytime soon and I think that’s fine. I’m really glad that this game sparked this conversation and allowed us to talk about big issues. It’s not the goal of Small World. Small World just wants you to have fun. Small World just wants to pit you against your friends. Small World is just a game. But, then again, it is a game placed in our world, and in our world we have a lot of history of the displacement and destruction of indigenous people  and tribes, lost or not.


Episode 2: Schadenfreude


The Boardgame Group: TBG Is The Place To Be

A short video I did extolling the virtues of TBG.


Thursday Thoughts: Alphabetical April

This is how we’re revisting games we haven’t played in awhile


Siblings Trouble-Interview With Ed Baraf

Today we are joined by Ed Baraf who is launching a Kickstarter for his new game, The Siblings Trouble. From the BGG page:

The Siblings Trouble is a card-driven, cooperative, storytelling game inspired by finding the mysterious places in your backyard.

The Siblings Trouble boils down all the core elements of an RPG (storytelling, exploration, discover, treasure, encounters, etc) into a fun-to-play narrative romp with your family or friends.

This is a 30 minute narrative game you can play as an ice-breaker, in-betweener, or as a way to introduce storytelling and adventure games to new players. This is not a simplified, beginner version of Dungeons and Dragons. It is an experience unto itself which leverages the fun of pen and paper games and lets players have quick, fun adventures together.

The Siblings Trouble is influenced by Miyasaki, The Goonies, The Hardy Boys, and even Pikmin. It is about Grabbing a backpack, a sandwich, that monster you call a “sibling,” and heading out into the wilderness, leaving the comfort of home at your back.

Siblings TroubleWhat inspired The Siblings Trouble?

The Siblings Trouble was inspired by the nostalgia for being a kid and going on an adventure.

What mysterious things did you find in your backyard as a kid?

One of the coolest things I ever found near my backyard was a gigantic piece of rose granite about the size of a bowling ball. That was awesome.

You have a 15 year background in making video games. What design aspects or approaches, if any, were you able to bring to tabletop games? Are there elements of tabletop design you are able to carry over into video game design?

Ultimately, the best training you can have to make something is to make stuff. In video games, I spent 15 years making complex stuff with lots of people. You learn so much from doing things a to z it is hard to quantify. For me, it is less about design and more about the ability to be a producer and put together a project.

Who is this game for?

You can look at this from two angles

–        The game is for people who like telling stories. People who are nostalgic for childhood.

–        The game is filler for core role-players. Something different for Game night storytelling, or introducing your kids to playing characters.

What do you want people to get from or a take away from The Siblings Trouble?

Honestly, I hope people have fun telling stories and touching their childhood again. For kids, I hope they enjoy imagining themselves in the fantastic.

It appears to be quite a bit different from Lift Off! Was that intentional?

No, not really. They game from completely different inspirations.

What was it like developing this on Tabletop Deathmatch?

Well, the game wasn’t developed on Tabletop Deathmatch, that was more about experiencing what is like to be on reality TV. It was strange and wonderful experience.


What was strange and wonderful about it?
It is a surreal experience to be talking about your game, your passion while on camera and in front of other contestants/judges. This may be something that is more common to movies, but it isn’t that common for board games 😛

What experiences did you bring to The Siblings Trouble from developing and funding Lift Off?

Good question, as far as the actual game development there wasn’t a whole lot, but now that I’m running another Kcikstarter a TON. Your first Kickstarter is a massive learning experience. It is actually super cool to be able to leverage that again.

What qualities or skills do you feel help someone to be an effective producer and/or designer?
Drive, Organization, and Communication.

What are your hopes for The Siblings Trouble?

I hope we can fund and people can play. I hope they enjoy themselves and share with others.

Where can people find out more information? How can they help?

Campaign is set to launch on Tuesday, 4.12 (today!)
www.thesiblingstrouble.com will link into the campaign and they can also visit www.facebook.com/thesibilingstrouble
What do you like about storytelling in games?
The experience of walking into another world. There is something different when you are pretending to be the character.

Follow Ed on twitter: https://twitter.com/ebaraf 
Subscribe to his youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/EdoBarafu

Interview with Julian Courtland-Smith Part 1

The first time I saw someone explain Survive! Escape From Atlantis I knew I had to have it. The theme, the look, the interesting gameplay. I loved it so much I did a video review of it for Ed Baraf. This game had a huge impact on our family. Even our 11 year old, who is not as interested in board games, asks to play it, Then I did some research on the designer. Surely he created other games that my family would love. But I only found information on an out of print game and a never published game. I needed more information. Luckily we live in the 21st century and I have this wonderful thing called the internet and this other wonderful thing called electronic mail!! Once I combined the two I was able to contact and communicate with Julian Courtland-Smith, designer of Survive! Escape From Atlantis and bringer of joy to my family.

Today Spaghetti & Meeples brings you Part 1 (yes there will be a part 2!) of our interview with Julian Courtland-Smith.

Julian Courtland-Smith with Survive!What inspired you to design Survive?

 Survive! is the name (title) Parker Brothers, USA, chose to call my game Escape from Atlantis (EfA). What inspired me to invent EfA was, one day in Hastings Library I chanced upon a row of books all about the ‘mythical’ island of Atlantis. In a flash I thought a game about a sinking island would be a good theme for a board game.The rest is history.

Survive has been through many publishers. Did you have anything to do with that?

Yes and no. Survive went through many publishers because each publisher had survival issues, pun intended. Parker Brothers were hit badly when computer games came along and wiped out 80% of the board game market. Following the success of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs! I took EfA to Waddingtons UK with a 3D version which they marketed. A few years later, Waddingtons were hit by a recession and taken over by Hasbro. I renegotiated with Hasbro who launched their version of EfA in 1997, but when European sales of Atlantis! dropped below 100,000 per annum they axed it. Stronghold Games came along and relaunched the game in 2010. Since then it has remained a success. EfA is also sub-licensed by Asmodee in other languages and called ‘The Island’. There’s also a digital version of the EfA on smart phones. It’s marketed by Quado and called Escape from Atlantis. Yes, many publishers have marketed Escape from Atlantis but each has played a part in its continued success.

What about the expansions Stronghold Games has released?

They’re great! Stronghold Games consulted me about their expansions and I agreed.

I read Survive originally had pirates in it. Do you want to get pirates back in the game?

My prototype of Survive (Escape from Atlantis) did indeed include pirates. Parker Bros, USA, substituted the pirates for whales. I think this was a good idea. My pirates and Parker Bros whales do the same thing, which is sink a boat upon impact and make the fleeing Atlantians swimmers. I believe there are fans of the game who would enjoy seeing pirates in the game. What’s needed to include pirates in a future expansion is a new set of rules which legitimize their presence and doesn’t upset the balance of the game.

What does it feel like to have Survive not only still around 30 years on, but also very popular and on many “best of” lists?

Very humbling! The fact that so many people still enjoy playing my game after all these years is really amazing. Yes, I feel very honoured.

You also designed Lost Valley Of The Dinosaurs and the unreleased Mammoth Mountain. I sense a running theme. Not so much a question as a leading statement… 

I love thematic games. As such, in the 80’s, I designed a trilogy of adventure games. Because of major changes in the games industry explained above I  was unable to get my third game Mammoth Mountain released. See picture of Mammoth Mountain, not seen elsewhere.

Mammoth Mountain

Any chance of Mammoth Mountain getting made?

There’s a lot of interest being shown at the moment to publish the original prototype of Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs, not the Waddingtons version. If that’s successful, then there’s a slim chance Mammoth Mountain will follow.

Lost Valley Of The Dinosaurs

 Why did you decide to invent board games?

 In 1965 I read an article in a magazine about Waddingtons latest game, Mine A Million! I thought I could do that!

 What was the first game you invented?

 My first game was called World Power. Looking back, it was rubbish and a variation of Risk!

How many games have you invented?

Somewhere between 50 to 100. When a game goes nowhere, I take any good mechanics from it and put them into another game.

How many years have you been inventing games?

42 years out of the last 50, as I took an 8 year sabbatical. In the last recession 1988/96 lots of board game companies went to the wall. Like frenzied sharks on a blood lust, the major manufacturers Mattel and Hasbro gobbled up most of the opposition. Today Waddingtons, Spears, Parker Bros, MB and the like have become brand names. I took a back seat during that recession waiting for the fallout, as people in the business were losing their jobs and games companies stopped marketing new games.

How long did it take before you were successful?

17 years. Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs was marketed by Waddingtons in 1982 and sold 1/3rd million. It took me 2 weeks to invent the game, 4 weeks to write the rules and 6 years to get it to market!

Be sure to join us next week for Part 2 and find out a little more about Julian’s design process and what’s next for him!

In the meantime here’s more picture goodness of a prototype version of Survive! Escape From Atlantis!

Prototypes of 2d and 3d versions

Part 2 can be found here.


Episode 1 is live!!!


Thursday Thoughts: PODCAST!!!


Alphabetical April

Spaghetti and Meeples is kicking off April right. We are going to play all of our games in alphabetical order. Here is our schedule and plan!

Alphabetical April


Date Games Date Games
4/1 12 Days

7 Wonders + Expansions

4/16 Memoir ‘44

Monkeys Need Love Too

4/2 Alhambra

Apples to Apples

4/17 Monopoly

Monty Python Fluxx

4/3 Axis and Allies 4/18 Mousetrap

Munchkin/Axe Cop Munchkin

4/4 Betrayal at House on the Hill


Cards Against Humanity

4/19 Pandemic

Pandemic: Contagion

4/5 Castle Panic + Wizard’s Tower

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

4/20 Phantom Leader

Phase 10


4/6 Catan

Catan Card Game


4/21 Planet Steam



4/7 Class of Cultures

Colt Express

4/22 Qwirkle
4/8 Creationary

Cthulhu 500

4/23 Risk: Legacy
4/9 Dawn of the Zeds

Dice Crawl

4/24 Rococo


4/10 Dixit

D&D Attack Wing w/Expansions

4/25 Small World w/Expansions

Smash Up w/Expansions


Steam Park

4/11 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

Eight Minute Empire: Legends

Elder Sign

4/26 Stone Age




Ticket to Ride w/Expansions

4/12 Firefly: The Game

Get Bit!


Go Ape!

4/27 Tokaido


4/13 The Great Dalmuti

Jetpack Unicorn

Just Desserts

King of Tokyo

4/28 We Didn’t Playtest this At All


4/14 Letters to Santa


Love Letter (Original)

4/29 Yggdrasil w/Expansion

Zombie Dice

Zombie Fluxx

4/15 Love Letter (US)

Magic The Gathering

4/30 Zpocalypse w/Expansion

GameStorm 17 Special

In an effort to be more inclusive Spaghetti & Meeples will do our best to include accompanying text/scripts with all videos.

GameStorm 17! This was my first time at a board game convention. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, but I was not disappointed. What was there to see and do? Lots. But we only had one day to visit this four day convention so I only got to do so much. First, right when you entered there was the dealer room. I have to say I would have liked more publishers present, there were books, and comics and t-shirts, and leather, and chain-mail, and teas and games, and about 6 or so publishers. There may have been more over the whole weekend, but this is how we found it on Saturday. And it was fine, there were some great games and great people there.

Speaking of, thank you to Jack and Alyssa who were with SoulJar Games and thank you to Owen who was with Red Raven Games. Alyssa and Jack introduced me to Dice Crawl and also Torn Armor, but I had a budget and Dice Crawl was unlike any of the games we have, so there you go. And it’s great! I highly recommend it. Basically you have tiles that you each reveal and you roll for special powers and to win tiles and score points and first to the dragon gets 3 bonus points. 100 dice in this game! Who could pass that up?

The other game we got was Eight Minute Adventure Legends. It’s a wee area control game that has a bidding mechanic to get control of cards that allow you to do certain actions. We played the original and liked it and then I opened up the box for Legends and saw these adorable little castles and had to get that version! It’s light, it’s attractive, play before you pay. It may not be for you, but I’m glad I have it.

Oh, but this wasn’t a place to just buy things. No. This is a board game convention. We were there to play. Everyone was there to play.

On the same floor as the dealer room were other rooms for free play. Bring a game, reserve a table and off you go. There were rooms for LARPing as well. Exciting stuff. On the second level there were smaller rooms with card games, and indie game jam play-testing sort of things happening.

And then you go down to the garage. Yes the garage! There was a reservation conflict. And they had cordoned off a quite large area and set up these faux walls and put hundreds of tables in. Again, you could reserve a table ahead of time, or check out the games library and find a table. More play-testing and more just playing.

Tournaments, contests, a hospitality room with food and drink. GameStorm has it all. I also ran into a former coworker and current friend performing with his improv group The Minions doing a D&D skit that is ongoing and builds on each performance so that it is a continuing story. Check them out!

I wish I could have been there all weekend. I’m already planning on going next year. I hope to be able to attend more than one day. You should check them out at GameStorm.org and see what they’re about.

I attended GameStorm for the first time. Enjoy the video and check out these links: