Podcast #151 - Sloth Trek: The Twelfth Generation



In this rapidly 151st episode of the Shut Up & Sit Down podcast, Ava and Quinns are climbing mountains and swinging from trees to tell you about some board games about climbing mountains and swinging from trees.

Quinns introduces us to Trek 12, a game of mapping out mountains, roping numbers together and some clever envelopes. Then Ava wants to be a bit over-familiar with Fast Sloths, a game of hitch-hiking sloth racing.

2:04 - Trek 12
15:42 - Fast Sloths

Curses, I just got back from a walk, would have made for good listening.

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I’ve also played Trek 12 on BGA – it’s a premium game there, but one of the local game group is a subscriber. We played two separate games, not trying to start a campaign.

Well, it’s a roll and write. There’s a bit of variation in the standard “everyone uses the same rolls” by using the operations (sum, difference, product, min, max), and that’s quite fun, but apart from that it felt to me very much a product of the Roll-and-Write-o-Matic (a close cousin of the Plot-o-Matic used heavily in Hollywood). Why would I play this rather than Railroad Ink¹ that I actually like?

¹ or other R&W of choice, naturally.

I’d very much agree with Quinns’ comment that having the work done for you is distancing; everything that I’ve played both on BGA and in real life, I’ve liked much better in real life.

I’ve never played a Friedemann Friese game that I enjoyed, but I haven’t played many; he’s already working in the slightly more abstract Euro space which tends to be a bit away from what I favour. (I’d actually like to try Power Grid one day.) 504 was on my “maybe buy at Essen” list that year, and I turned it down after a quick glance at the rules – and I feel I dodged a bullet.

Here are some probability tables for T12:


Value Odds
1 11/36
2 9/36
3 7/36
4 5/36
5 3/36
6 1/36


Value Odds
1 1/36
2 3/36
3 5/36
4 7/36
5 9/36
6 11/36


Value Odds
2 1/36
3 2/36
4 3/36
5 4/36
6 5/36
7 6/36
8 5/36
9 4/36
10 3/36
11 2/36
12 1/36


Value Odds
0 6/36
1 10/36
2 8/36
3 6/36
4 4/36
5 2/36


Value Odds
1 1/36
2 2/36
3 2/36
4 3/36
5 2/36
6 4/36
8 2/36
9 1/36
10 2/36
12 4/36
15 2/36
16 1/36
18 2/36
20 2/36
24 2/36
25 1/36
30 2/36
36 1/36

I have a copy that I only picked up because it was going for cheap and it was a handy way to get a load of components for testing/prototyping. Maybe I’d skim the rulebook for some design ideas, but I’d never actually attempt to learn and play it.

I agree with all of their opinions on Fast Sloths. I really wanted to try it when I first saw it, so I played it with some friends on TTS, and it was, you know, okay. No one had a bad time, but there was clearly something ineffable that was missing. “Tepid” is a great way to describe it. And yet there’s still an appeal! The theme is so funny, the different animal movement is so clever, I like mechanics of everyone using the same thing but tugging it in different directions. I’m certainly not crying at the fact that I’ll almost certainly never play it again, but there always is that little thing in my heart that just says, “Hmmm but what if I bought Fast Sloths?”

Well, you dodged a Bullet. 504 was a good abstraction of games and maybe for that reason I should have kept my copy just so I can break down mechanisms to their essentials. It might be helpful for someone wanting to design their own game as a starting point. I played 3 or 4 different games before I gave up on it. It is just so complicated to set up and then the rules are not always clear and the games are pretty boring.

My favorite of his is definitely „Finished“ and I did enjoy „Freitag“ which I gave to a friend along with Palm Island :slight_smile: He seems to be really good at solo games. I haven‘t played any of that other series he made in recent years but our friends like them, I just cannot recall the name right now.

Faiyum sits up there in my office and I am wavering between trying to sell it or keeping it because I don‘t have any other big-box FF game currently and feel incomplete without at least one and I haven‘t played except for my solos which were nice but weird.

We used to play every new FF game as it was published, one or another of my friends would always buy them: Funkenschlag, Finstre Flure and Fische Fluppen Frikadellen… these are all fun but they are also old. Fürstenfeld was frustrating because we played with a friend who just—on first play at Essen—mathed out the game. On first play. Back then I thought it was a weakness that a game is so easily thought through. Sure that friend is pretty much a genius but still.

Friedemann Friese is a great designer. But all his games still feel, as if he spends a year out in the woods and when he returns he has moss in his hair and a finished game (or finished?) in his hand… without him Spiel would definitely be more boring. But his games are an acquired taste. Without having listened to the podcast, Fast Sloths seems to be one of his better ones as far as I have heard… somewhere…


I have the SU&SD copy of 504 that Paul used to film the review. I got it in a math trade at SHUX one year. I got it more for the novelty of being to do things like post this comment right now than for actually playing. Since I traded away a game I also wasn’t playing much, I just got my value out of that trade.


Was it a dick move to quote that enormous thing? Maybe. Maybe. But I had a hard time really qualifying why Trek 12 was such a difficult game for me, and it was hard to be enthusiastic about yet another attempt when all the prior defeats showed no improvement whatsoever. I moved it on fast.

It’s hard to call a relatively exhaustive list eloquent, but in my mind that huge wall of odds looks like sweet vindication. I’m an intuitive player, and this one was never going to be for me.

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