Matt's Board Game Back Room

Join me in my cozy little back room filled with games! Ooh and ah at some new releases. Learn about some more recent games. Or, look back at some older and classic games. From Euros to Ameritrash, kids games to grown-up games, easy to intense - nothing much is ignored in Matt's Board Game Back Room! (Updates will be cross-posted from my blogspot blog - click my Blogger microbadge to go there now)

Archive for Classics Closet

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CLASSICS CLOSET - There is more merit in older/classic games than you might expect

-matt s.
United States
Eugene
Oregon
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Sometimes the older or classic games are just what you need. The rules can be read and learned in 5 minutes. The game play can be relatively quick. And they can just be fun for that time you are playing. You may not want/need to go back and play them 10 times in a couple of days, or every day for a month, but you definitely can get some quality enjoyment out of them while they are on the table.

This weekend I had taught a couple of new games to my parents when they were in town visiting for the usual birthday for my son and father's day, plus the added bonus of 'graduation' from elementary to middle school for my son and from middle school to high school for my daughter.

I taught some more recent games including Morels, Love Letter and Qwirkle Cubes (my preferred version of Qwirkle). We also played Carc with a couple of expansions (Catapultand Princess & the Dragon - my son's choices, a couple of his favorites).

But, I could tell that all the new games were burning my Mom out a bit as she wanted something simpler.

I looked through the cupboards and found Sharp Shooters - a more 'classic' sort of game from 1994 (hmmm, thought it was older) along the lines of Yahtzee or Can't Stop. I originally thifted it for $2, mainly for the plethora of dice it has (and maybe the dice tray)

To play, you roll 5 dice to try to match patterns on a shared board for the current round. If you are the person that completes the last die of a row you get that amount of money/points (or lose points in some cases if it is a negative row). You roll 5 dice and MUST place at least 1 die if possible; your turn is over if you can't play any. If you match exactly one you must place it. If you match more you can place any/all of them. You could possibly even fill out a full row in one go or one turn if you rolled the dice for it. After placing you can stop or keep going to try to place more dice.

The trick is determining when to push your luck, when to stop to make it harder for others to complete lines, and what to place to avoid leaving too many lines open for completion for the other player(s).

I thought it might be a bit dull, but we actually had a great time playing with groans when the dice failed you or cheers when the dice rolled your way.

This reminded me that games like this are sometimes all you need for a bit of fun and entertainment. A great way to get together and interact without requiring a ton of effort or heavy thinking.

It also started me thinking about how many people write off games like Yahtzee. But, as I recall, the last time we played it we had a great time. Same with Pictionary last year - my kids had never played and we had a blast. It reminded me of when I was a kid myself playing it with my family and friends in the evenings or during lazy summer days.

(And remember: King of Tokyo is really just an update of Yahtzee but with a few more features and different sorts of 'patterns' you are trying to match depending on your 'goals' - a classic made better, but the same sort of tension just applied in a different way)

This weekend we also played Pictureka- it is a kids game where you are searching for specific pictures of items across a series of 9 boards (sometimes you bid to see who can find more, sometimes there is a specific picture to find, sometimes you must find a certain amount of a type of item). I thifted a copy of it a couple of years ago and had a great time playing with the kids and even took it to a scout overnight event and they enjoyed it as well.

My son and I got my Mom and Dad to play. My dad tends to hate speed games (which is what this is) but he genuinely enjoyed it for the 20-30 minutes we played. We had a lot of interaction, a lot of laughs, and it didn't require any electronics of any sort. Just good old fashioned fun.

Recently, a couple of us local thrifters have been trying to play some of the older games we've been finding (see this list for some of the plans and results: Eugene Thrifty Games To Try). Surprisingly, many of the older games we've brought to the table have been great fun (or at least entertaining and somewhat interesting).

My favorite was Situation 4 from 1968. It is a game that involves quickly solving a puzzle in a speed game with another person (you could also play in teams). One twist is that each team has a different version of the same puzzle but each starts on an opposite edge. You must place connecting pieces and try to complete features and place flags on them to gain the points for that feature. The additional twist is it is somewhat of a war game in that you can infiltrate the other person's side of the board with tanks and paratroopers giving you the ability to interfere with what they are doing on their side, or protect your own side from invasion.

It is a really clever and interesting game and we had a blast playing it.

Anyhow, the thing I got out of this weekend was remembering how good the older games can be - just as entertaining as many of the more modern creations, and often not so difficult to learn to boot. It is easy to write off a game because it is old or a classic, but that doesn't mean it can't be good.



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Tue Jun 17, 2014 3:00 pm
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CLASSICS CLOSET - 'Doubletrack' (Review) - Reliving a Game from my Youth

-matt s.
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Eugene
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When I was a kid we actually had quite a few games around our house that I remembered playing. A good number of them really. However, I'd kind of forgotten the extent and variety until I first discovered and started looking around on BGG back in 2008. As I ran across them/remembered them I started marking them as Previously Owned and, in this case, 'Want in Trade'. Some others I remembered included: Inner Circle, Leverage, Touring, Waterworks, Survive!, Stay Alive, Operation, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Tri-Ominos, Quadominos, Pictionary, Yahtzee, and many more. And, I'm not ashamed to admit it that we owned Monopolyand it was one of my favorite games!

So anyway, last year I picked up the version of Cave Troll with the figures and I marked my version with the chits for trade. I wasn't sure if I'd ever get any bites on it, but recently I did as I received a trade request in exchange for Doubletrack. I'm sure not everyone has heard of this game but it was one I certainly remembered.


Doubletrack box (this is a fairly large box at 12"x20"x1-1/2")


In this game, I recalled there being plastic gates attached to the board that controlled access to certain paths on the board and you used a physical (cardboard) 'pass' that had to be inserted into the gates to open them up. I always found this functionality intriguing both the gate itself as well as the concept - each player controls a gate pass (or several in some cases) which gives them more control over who can go through them and when. I don't recall seeing this sort of feature in more modern games (if you've seen it I'd be interested to hear about it in the comments)

I also remembered the mechanic of using a Big pawn on an outer track that moves and then affects what the Small pawn on the inner track is doing.

So, I accepted the trade and thought this could be fun to play again.

Soon it arrived. It was a bit more beat up than the copy we used to own, but it had all the familiar components to it. There's something about getting your hands on a game you remember from your childhood that brings back warm memories of simpler days. You get this sense of zipping back in time, remembering where you would play it (on my bedroom floor with it's bright red carpet - no really, that's what I chose, much to my mother's chagrin), who you played it with (my sister mostly, sometimes my friend Jeff), and some vague memories of really enjoying it.

Well, my son and I got this game out the other evening. As we got out the pieces my son was intrigued by the gates. I had him install them, get the money chips out and set up initial money while I started reading the rules. There were more to the rules than I remembered. I wanted to be sure to go through everything and, as I explained it to my son he eventually said - "Dad, let's just play!" He's a little impatient. He had tired of fiddling with the gates and was ready to play. But reading the rules takes time! I guess it was my own fault for not following my own advice about reading the rules ahead of time. Especially when it comes to someone like my son.


Example game set up for 4 players

Anyhow, I glossed over the rest of the rules, except I'm glad I covered one rule in particular. There are certain actions which let you (rather force you) to sell a gate pass, sell a card from your hand, or even sell the lead (if you are leading). Something that surprised me about this game was that it used a blind auction for the selling part! I hadn't remembered that at ALL. I'm not sure if we ignored it (just as we ignored the auction in Monopoly) or if we did something else entirely.

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Fri May 20, 2011 5:12 pm
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