Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Thursday, February 16, 2006

BGTG 51 - Feb.13, 2006 - SR: Jenseits von Theben, Vegas Showdown, Bolide, Zahltag, and Feedback

This episode became my white whale. It was a struggle to get it recorded, edited, partially scrapped & re-recorded, and finally posted. Towards the end, I have to admit that I just gave up a little bit, posting it even though I'm still not happy with the audio quality. Also, I think I ramble on just a bit too much, though at least the second take was better than the first! The audio issues come from using a slightly different setup, one I'd hoped would give me a little more flexibility in where & when I record the shows (i.e., it's more portable). It worked ok, and could probably be improved further, though I'm not sure it solves my fundamental problem of not enough time to spend on the podcast!

Ah well, at least it's posted now. Maybe I can turn around a (shorter) 52nd show quicker, getting in some more audio feedback that I couldn't squeeze into this episode.

In the news section I mention how you need to read this blog/website to learn how to join me for games of Torres, Alhambra, Fearsome Floors, and perhaps Droles des Zebres on the play-by-web site Boîte à Jeux. That site doesn't use passwords, but I can still restrict a game to BGTGers by inviting specific users to join my games. To do that, I need your BAJ usernames. Email them to me, or--better yet--post them in comments to this message.

Towards the end of the feedback section I ask the audience for some idea for game accessories that make good gifts for the gamer who has everything. Got some ideas?


P.S. Samarit, I later figured out that Togo is in west Africa, not the South Pacific. Sorry about that! At least I know where Bavaria is . . . :)

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New podcasts! The Vintage Gamer, Garrett's Games & Geekiness, Point 2 Point, Coldfoot's 5-Minute Audio Reviews
My Interview by an Optimist (that's Tom Vasel, of course!)
Play-by-web sites: SpielByWeb, Ludagora, Boîte à Jeux, BGG
Jenseits von Theben
Vegas Showdown
Bolide (and the old skool graph paper racing game that might even be better [and another])
Joe Huber's German Game Author article about Franz-Benno Delonge
Game accessories: Plasti-bands, Shocking Roulette, ziplock bags, spare pawns & chips


Blogger ekted said...

Listening to it now. Definitely a lower quality than previous shows. I don't know if it's the 32bit/22K sound format, or the new software/hardware you are using. Not difficult to hear, just a bit more staticky.

12:56 AM  
Blogger ekted said...

Re: Caylus

Mark, if you'd like to learn Caylus, I can teach you using BSW/Skype.

- Jim

1:52 AM  
Blogger Mergryphon said...

I'd be interested in some online games. Bit of trouble figuring out the french ones, but I think i've got it. user name mergryphon

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few things, Mark:

1. For gaming accessories, I have had some good experiences with small plastic organizer boxes. They're commonly sold for fishing tackle. The specific model I've used are Plano boxes, the 3705 for a couple games (Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill). They're wonderful for games with lots of bits.

2. If you played more 10 Days in Africa, you'd know where Togo is. And you'd know that it's green! :-)

3. I've thought about what I think could be an interesting podcast show format. My reading preferences on BGG are the session reports. I've written my share, as well. Your audio session reports are generally well done, with good information about the game as it related to that particular session. But I think that an audio session report that included a guest might be a really good listen. Differing observations about the game, strategy/tactics comparisons, and perhaps a little old fashioned ribbing would, I think, be pretty dynamic. Something to think about?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark. I've got a few suggestions very useful game accessories:

1) Glass stones. These make great markers in a variety of circumstances (Among many other things, I use them mark used buildings in Attika which makes the game much easier to play).

2) Poker chips! Great for replacing paper money in any game where money is open information. Also good whenever you need to track a number of something as 1 chip takes the same amount of space as many (I use them to track mark life points in Duel of Ages).

3) Dice tray! My favorite gaming accessory is my Kaplow Dice Tray.
It keeps the dice confined, and keeps them quiet (useful when you have a sleeping baby). I also like the ricochet action you get off the hexagonal shape. You can put fixed dice up on the side while you reroll the rest. It's totally gratuitous, but that's probably part of why I like it so much. (Boulder Games may be able to get one for you and they are on Ebay as well).
Dice towers might also work well for some people.

- Damon

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yet another opportunity to provide unasked for German help. You had asked what the "Jenseits" in the name of "Jenseits von Theben" meant. I pulled out my handy-dandy online dictionary, and came up with a few possibles: "das Jenseits", as a noun, translates to "Afterlife" or "Netherworld".

I would say "The Afterlife of Thebes" would be a reasonable translation.

The best source I have found for German reference is If you point your browser to, you will get a nice English/German dictionary (also French/German). I especially like the way you can put in English or German words, and it will do the lookup: no need to set it in "German mode" or "english mode".

It will probably show up in German, but there is an "English version" link in the upper left hand corner.


Hank Alme

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent show yet again!

3:29 PM  
Blogger ekted said...

Thanks for turning me on to Jenseits von Theben. It sounds fantastic. Looking forward to the supposed release this fall by a larger publisher.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark finally decided to drop you a note telling you how much I am enjoying your podcasts. My workplace has blocked BGG this year and podcasts are keeping me from going insane during the slow times. Your friendly style of delivery is very entertaining and comfortable. It feels like your right in the room. I have always enjoyed talking and playing games with you, and the podcast feels like an extension of that time. As a side note, I hope you are going to try to come up to Kublacon this May. I will offer you free space in my room. I am trying to get Ryan Wheeler to make it up this year as well. Thanks again and keep up the good work. Greg Parker

10:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

JvT might be getting a large publisher? I'd missed that rumor. Where'd you hear that?

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

Got curious when you said on the last show that you had one listener from Sweden because I knew I hadn't added myself to your frappr page. Turns out the other guy is from the same city as me, Linkoping, so if you don't zoom in VERY much you'll only see one pin in Sweden anyway :-\

That said, I love your show. It's the best podcast about games out there right now. You have a great voice for talking alone and still getting us listeners interested in what you say. You also have a balanced view on most games and it has been a sheer pleasure to listen to the 'All About' shows.

I can also add another recommendation for using poker chips instead of money or VP markers. Easily cuts 5-20% playing time compared to using paper money depending on how much money is handled.

Keep up the good work,
Hakan Konig

1:32 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Good show Mark. Agree entirely on Bolide. Doesn't work on any level really, but mildly distracting trying to 'fly' around the track. At an hour plus per lap, I don't think we will be buying the expansion boards somehow.

I think it is fair to say that the 'digs' in Jenseits don't always clear out early!

I thought the title meant something like East of Thebes? Beyond Thebes? I am sure I read about it somewhere.

9:59 PM  
Blogger ekted said...

Re: JvT reprint

I looked all over for where I saw the comment, and can find nothing. I swear it was on BGG or BGN. Something like "there's a possibility of this being reprinted by a major publisher, but we won't say who yet..." It's possible I'm thinking of a different game.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Oh Bolide! (imo) that is interesting. I am a BIg fan of racing (board) games. A few years back I went on a search for any and all informaiton on them that I could find. It's funny that I never came across (or even heard of ) the free Graph-paper racing game. But my searches did lead me to Tacara(which I put up on BGG). It uses the vector movement mechanic, but had a center graph plotter where all players kept track of their momentum(so it ended up being a slightly different approach). I wonder which is better(in terms of fun), I'll have to download the rules and see. I must be one of the quirky few whom actually enjoy games like this.
I do feel this mechanic would be more suited to a spaceship racing/battle game (similar to the old vector arcade game Omega Race).

Thanks for another informative show. I think you were spot on with your view of Vegas Showdown. One can hope to see more along these lines from them.


9:11 AM  
Blogger ekted said...

Mark, found the JvT thread I was talking about:

8:27 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

You know, something I forgot to point out in the podcast or accompanying blog entry is Avalon Hill's series of strategy articles for Vegas Showdown. This isn't a general practice on their part--in may come solely from the articles' author Alan Kwan's initiative--but it's very welcome nonetheless.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

I haven't had much time recently to listen to your podcast and I have to catch up so this might be a little late. But I'd like to put my 2 cents into the "Jenseits von Theben - What the heck does this title mean?"-pot. Hank was right in translating "Jenseits" with "afterlife" or "netherworld" but in this context it means "beyond" - "Beyond Thebes". I also agree with Hank about A very fine dictionary which is easy to use and even has audio examples for pronunciation. In case you're using Firefox, there's also a nice extension called "DictionarySearch" ( which allows you to send a word directly to a dictionary of your choice with just 2 mouse clicks... Never have translations been more comfortable. :)

Ok, that's it. Please do keep up with BGTG.

Greetings from Kaiserslautern, Germany


4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JvT: The author's interpretation of the name appears to be 'East of Thebes' ( Not sure how this relates to the actual title.


6:28 PM  

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