We've all done it, right? Invested in a board game just to get our creative little hands on its components? Everyone's done that, right? It's not just me? (Please tell me it's not just me.)
See, sometimes a great game also comes with awesome little bits that are just frosting on the cake. Other times, a game's accessories turn out to be more compelling than the actual game itself. Those are the ones that usually end up just being gutted for parts.
This is my list of the top ten games that I got primarily to either mod other games or for creating new ones. If the game itself was fun, then that was just an added bonus.
I recently started a new gaming group in my town that meets a couple times a month, and I needed a new copy of Settlers of Catan to bring to it. Sure, I could have gone with the original version of the game, but this one includes cool little Enterprises and space stations that I can use in other games.
This one comes in at the end of my list because it’s a game that I definitely will play, and I will use to introduce others to Settlers, but I admit that I passed by the original version for this one simply to get my hands on the little ships and satellites it came with.
Heroscape is the duct tape of board games. Not only can its pieces be used to supplement other board and RPG games, but it's a good game in its own right. Its pieces can currently be found on my gaming table sprucing up Defenders of the Realm, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and RPGs.
Many of the games on my list suffer from a lack of co-player. War of the Ring suffers from its strengths. It’s an epic, in-depth game that recreates the world Tolkien created, but that means it’s an epic, in-depth game that takes many hours.
My wife is usually my companion for two-player games, but the rare, spare moments that we have to play games together are rarely long enough to indulge in this beauty. And most other gaming opportunities I have are in a group environment. I know that its day will come. But, until then, it’s fantastic figures, dice and map will continue to be used as a big sandbox for tinkering with other game design ideas.
Speaking of games that unfortunately see more time as a development sandbox than being played as originally intended, there's Twilight Imperium. It’s rare to have the time and number of players necessary to go full throttle and really take advantage of the immersive gameplay this baby is capable of.
Twilight Imperium has still offered me hours of enjoyment simply by the ideas and its pieces have given me to experiment with. The planet tiles, plastic ships, and cards, cards, cards, CARDS nearly make this a game design workshop in a box.
When I discovered Crude, the part of my psyche that's addicted to polyurethane went nuts. This game comes with approximately 80 plastic drilling rigs, 16 oil wells, 12 oil refineries, 30 gas stations, 80 crude oil barrels, and 80 gasoline barrels.
After obtaining a copy and then reviewing its rules as an afterthought, I discovered that there's actually a pretty good game included with all this plastic. Who’da thunk it? So, Crude earned its place on this list because it started out as a game just to be ransacked for parts, but it turned out to be a strong enough game that it earned the right to have its parts kept in its own box, so it could still be played as intended.
Hoopla, and several of the other Cranium games, are in my collection simply because of the five-color ten-sided dice that comes with them. (Little dice, oh, how I love you and the ideas for game mechanisms that you inspire.)
Every time I'm at a garage sale, I'll snatch up any copy of Hoopla they have, just to get a hold of another one of these wonderful little pentagonal trapezohedrons.
There used to be a house on my block that would frequently put free things in their yard, out by the curb. One day, on my way to work, there was a Samurai Swords box in the free spot. I greedily scooped it up.
I expected to find a half-empty box full of well worn and abused pieces. But instead, I discovered a complete copy of the game in great condition. My free prize and I sped away with glee.
Samurai Swords comes with over 430 game pieces. My copy came with over 430 pleasant little freebie surprises.
I was introduced to first edition of the Civilization board game after a friend of mine bought it. After we played it the first time, I found myself admitting, "yeah, that kind’a stunk"... as I drove to my local game shop to buy my own copy of the game. Correction: to buy my own copy of the game’s pieces.
The game’s redeeming factor is the fact that it comes with 784 plastic pieces, depicting different units and technologies, spanning from the stone age through modern times. (mu ha ha ha!)
I grew up playing Risk. Many Saturdays were spent embarking on epic geo-political struggles that would consume the entire day. Risk doesn't seem to get a lot of love, ranking at #7,230 on boardgamegeek.com, just above "The T-Shirt Game".
There are many versions of Risk tucked away in my closet -- Godstorm, Castle, Lord of The Rings, Starcraft, and a half-dozen copies picked up for a buck at thrift stores. Their primarily purpose is to lend their pieces to be pilfered and put into other places.
Monopoly City claims the top spot on my list because it epitomizes the concept of this list. This game comes with 80 little buildings: skyscrapers, schools, power plants, etc. Ooh, cool! Are these pieces used to add a city planning aspect into Monopoly with, injecting it with a new level of strategy? Unfortunately not.
When you get right down to it, it's still just Monopoly. Monopoly with more complicated rules. And that’s the problem with this game: Monopoly City doesn’t add complexity to the game experience, it adds complication to it.
I'd love to figure out how to integrate these little buildings into an actual city-building game, like Suburbia. I haven't had an opportunity to do that yet, so, for now, these 80 little buildings just sit on my shelf, creating a tiny plastic skyline that whispers hints of game ideas at me.
This game was really panned when it came out, though I found it to be a lot of fun, scalable, and chock full of bits, like . . .
warships, engineers, explorers, infantrymen, and field cannon
cavalry (mounted riflemen) and leaders -- not to mention horses
and in six different colors
cities, port markers, factories, school houses, locomotives, and fortifications.
and chits for resources and numbers
At game cons, I've seen dealers selling the bits separately for quite a bit of money, but if you find a used copy of the game at a garage sale, you could get it, throw away the board and use the bits elsewhere.
I think I thrifted this one. Can't remember. It was a long time ago. But one day we were looking for counter stands to play a blind game of Crete. Any game (with single-sided counters) now has the potential to convert to a blind 'block' game. Can't let it go now.
Picked up a couple of old, old Diplomacy games for pennies. All wood. 7 colors. Have used those components in many games. Currently using the fleets as fleets in Empires in Arms to compliment the miniatures (the miniature ships indicates fleet presence - the wood from Diplomacy represents the specific fleets):